Downtown Fire Traps Tenants

Residents said they were screaming for help

Tenants in a downtown apartment complex were trapped by a fire that consumed the building's third floor.

Crews responded to the fire in the Cortez area of downtown on the 1300 block of Seventh Avenue at about 8 p.m., according to the San Diego Fire Department.

The fire broke out in the kitchen of a third-floor unit at The Potter Apartments and flames quickly spread to the fourth floor and attic of the 27-unit building.

About 20 residents were evacuated and four people were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

Crews had to rescue one woman and carry her down a flight of stairs. A fire helicopter was called in to help check for possible victims on the roof.

Firefighters knocked the fire down in about 45 minutes. Heavy smoke and flames were visible from downtown.

One resident said it was 15 minutes before fire crews came to his rescue. He was considering jumping out of his third floor apartment to escape the flames.

"We were screaming at the top of our lungs for help," said tenant Richard Tiland.

About 20 people are now homeless.

A fire spokesperson estimated damages at $1.5 million to the building and $750,000 to the contents.

Keep up to date on breaking news: Follow us on Twitter @nbcsandiego, fan us on Facebook, sign up for our breaking news e-mail alerts or text SDBREAKING to 622339 to receive text messages for local breaking news. (For more info, text HELP. To end, text STOP. Message and data rates may apply.)

Contact Us