Seven people are homeless Monday after a fire tore through their La Mesa apartment complex.
A man claimed he was burning trash in his apartment in the 5000-block of Thorne Drive around 3:30 p.m. on Sunday when the fire broke out, investigators said.
The man had stacks of combustible materials throughout his home and next to the fireplace, said La Mesa Fire Division Chief Chuck Strickland.
It looked like the man may have been a hoarder, lots of clutter and lots of combustible items near the fireplace, Strickland said. The sparks jumped out of the fireplace and into the nearby items.
He told firefighters he was cold and tried to burn debris to keep warm.
The fire got out of control and spread to other units, investigators said, gutting one of them.
Strickland said the apartment was filled with "mounds and mounds" of fuel which allowed the fire to spread quickly.
The man suffered minor burns, but is expected to be ok.