Thick black smoke hovered over beachgoers at Pacific Beach as a fire grew in a popular restaurant, sending about 120 customers and employees rushing out of the building.
San Diego Fire officials say the grease fire started at about 3:15 p.m. in the kitchen of the PB AleHouse, located at 721 Grand Avenue.
The flames then traveled through the exhaust system and sparked a second blaze in the attic. Most of the smoke and fire was coming from there by the time police arrived.
San Diego police said they saw flames escaping from the second-story window, so they started blocking off the road and controlling crowds in the area so firefighters could extinguish it.
Fire Causes $1M in Damage to PB AleHouse
Eric Leitstein, the restaurant's owner, told NBC 7 his employees initially tried to put out the flames but they did the right think when they decided to just get everyone out.
"We've got great management, great employees," he said. "They followed direction. Management got everyone out timely, called 911. Engine 21 across the street responded great, so they handled it as expeditiously as they could."
No injuries were reported.
The tough, thick roof presented a challenge, fire officials said, for it was difficult to find the fire's source. Firefighters tore some of the walls down to make sure the fire was completely out. Still, the flames were doused in about 25 minutes.
Investigators say the fire damaged the expensive microbrew equipment and beer lines in the roof. In all, they estimate about $300,000 worth of damage was done to the structure and $700,000 worth to the content inside.