San Diego

Otay Ranch Brush Fire Started by Teens: CVFD Chief

Teenagers were suspected of starting a small brush fire in the populated Otay Ranch neighborhood of Chula Vista on Sunday evening amid dangerous fire conditions, a fire battalion chief said.

The fire started while a Red Flag Warning was in effect around 9:20 p.m. in the 1200 block of Santa Cora Avenue, the Chula Vista Fire Department said.

The fire started next to the Tersina Apartments complex and close to several residential neighborhoods with schools nearby.

A resident shared cell phone video of the fire with NBC 7, which showed flames spewing near the apartment complex. The resident said the flames melted some people's blinds.

Some residents were evacuated and have since been allowed to go home.

One person, a 16-year-old, was transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation. That person is expected to be OK, a battalion chief said.

The teen was trying to put out the fire and the fire extinguisher malfunctioned. 

Witnesses told investigators they heard noises outside the window and saw some kids filming each other starting fires.

A man who lives in the nearby apartment said he saw the flames and rushed his family to safety, knocking on neighbors' doors as he made his exit.

No one was injured in Monday's fire.

The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for Sunday due to severely dry conditions, gusty winds and hot temperatures that combined had the potential to quickly spread wildfires. 

This was the second fire in this location in 2 1/2 weeks. A similar fire was started by kids on Oct. 25, just a few feet away from this one.

In that fire, it was the same situation — kids filming each other starting fires.

CVFD said the area is now a designated special response area, meaning if another fire incident happens there, police will be responding along with firefighters.

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