Fire Doused in University City, Arson Suspected

By Tony Shin
|  Tuesday, Oct 6, 2009  |  Updated 10:31 AM PDT
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Fire Doused in University City, Arson Suspected

Firefighters battle a fire near condos in University City.

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Fire Doused in University City, Arson Suspected

A condo fire sent residents scrambling in University City.
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Jenny Kahn was just about to go to work at Alvarado Hospital when she looked out her window and saw flames in the canyon below her University City condo.

"It just very rapidly started coming up the hill and I started panicking," Kahn said.

Kahn said she quickly started grabbing everything important to her.  "My first reaction was to grab some jewelry, and I packed up my car because I didn't know if I had five minutes or a little bit longer," Kahn said.

It turns out she didn't need to pack at all.  Copter Two arrived minutes after the call went out and Copter One was right behind.

The two firefighting helicopters made a total of three water drops which helped snuff out the big flames.  Ground crews took care of the rest with hoses and chainsaws.

"We were thinking "Yeah! Put it out," said resident Carey Shearn.  The flames didn't damage any homes at the Lucera Condominium Complex, which is located in the 7000 block of Shoreline Drive.

The fire burned next to railroad tracks, but fire officials said Amtrak and Coaster service did not need to be interrupted.

A San Diego Police sergeant said at least two witnesses came forward, claiming they either saw or heard something suspicious around the time the fire erupted.

But fire investigators said it is too early to say whether the fire was set.  They spent the evening sifting through ashes, looking for an ignition spot.

The idea that it could have been arson didn't sit well with Kahn.  "It's unfortunate to think that someone would want to do something like that to other people," she said.

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