San Diego's Metro Arson Strike Team (MAST) has been called to investigate a fire that tore through a detached garage at a Serra Mesa housing complex late Sunday, injuring two children who were trapped inside.
The two boys, ages two and four, were transported to UC San Diego's burn unit for treatment of their injuries, according to a spokesperson for San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
Both suffered smoke inhalation and the four-year-old boy was severely burned, according to San Diego Police Department Sgt. Rick Pechin. Both were in serious to critical condition by Monday evening.
MAST, a team of fire investigators that is typically called to fires deemed suspicious or involving explosives, has been called in to look into the details of the garage fire, though the cause of the fire is, at this point in the investigation, believed to be accidental, Pechin said.
The fire started at about 11:40 p.m. Sunday in The Village at Serra Mesa housing complex off of Murray Ridge Road just south of Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport. When the fire broke out, the 35-year-old mother was in a backyard area near the garage while the two children were inside the garage, the SDFD said in a press release.
Fodi Moasa, who works at a gas station across the street, says he heard a neighbor calling for help shortly after. Moasa locked up his shop and he and a customer ran to help.
"The fire had already became kind of bad and we broke down the garage door and we found a kid passed out in the garage," Moasa said.
Bystanders gave aid to the child until medics arrived on scene and, Moasa said, the child was able to be resuscitated.
Meanwhile, another bystander who arrived to help ran around the backside of the garage and pulled a second child from the garage, Moasa said. That child was also barely breathing, he added.
Moasa said the children's mother pulled towards the garage in a vehicle minutes after he broke down the garage door. She pulled her vehicle too close to the garage and it caught on fire, too.
By the time firefighters arrived, the garage was engulfed in flames, the SDFD said. Flames were also pouring from the vehicle just outside the garage.
Moasa said it appeared the fire started somewhere in the middle of the garage. By the time he broke down the garage door, it was spreading rapidly.
"Right when we broke the garage door, all the fire came in our face and it was hard to breathe that, you know, but we still managed to get the kid out," he said. "I saved a kid's life. I feel good about that."
The fire caused about $60,000 worth of damage to the garage and about $30,000 worth of damage to the contents inside. Two other garages were also damaged. In all, about $200,000 worth of damage is estimated, the SDPD said.