An argument between roommates led to a fire at an apartment complex in San Diego's Fletcher Hills area that led to two people rescued and one person arrested, officials confirmed.
The fire began just after 7:30 a.m. at the Chatham Apartments in El Cajon at 2700 Chatham St. The complex is west of Fletcher Parkway in San Diego’s East County.
Shawna Haligowski told NBC 7 she was in her front yard right before 8 a.m. when she noticed smoke coming from the apartment complex.
"I called 911 and ran up there to let everybody know there was a fire," she said.
Haligowski saw two people were trapped on a balcony as flames were close behind them.
"I was like, You need to jump, you need to jump. Please jump,' because the flame was so close to his head. The smoke was so black, and it was very, very close to his head and they both took their shirts off and put it around their hair, but the fire department got there right on time," she said.
Heartland Fire & Rescue spokesperson Sonny Saghera told NBC 7 that firefighters rescued two people from a third-floor unit. One person suffered minor injuries but did not want to go to the hospital. The second person was unharmed. No one else was hurt.
Saghera said it took crews about 20 minutes to knock out the fire. In all, three units were damaged by water, fire or smoke, and a total of five residents were displaced and are being helped by the Red Cross.
Saghera told NBC 7 the sheriff department’s bomb and arson team is investigating.
The El Cajon Police Department later learned two women lived in the apartment unit where the fire had started. They had both gotten into a verbal argument, then one of the roommates left and when she came back, found her apartment on fire.
The woman provided a possible suspect and the other roommate was found in the apartment complex and was arrested, ECPD said. The roommate, described as a 26-year-old, was arrested on suspicion of arson. Police say they learned the fire had been purposely set.
The San Miguel Fire & Rescue Department out of Spring Valley, as well as the Santee Fire Department, helped in Sunday’s call out to the apartment complex.
An update posted on Instagram by the San Miguel Fire & Rescue Department showed photos of the apartment complex, with smoke billowing from the upper floors. Officials said in the post that crews were “conducting extensive salvage and overhaul” in a second-floor unit that had been heavily damaged.
No further details were immediately released.