Explosions, Fire Destroy La Mesa Homes

Neighbor: Fire "best thing that could have happened" to problem home

A two-story La Mesa apartment complex was consumed by flames Friday afternoon in a two-alarm fire that spread to a single-story house.

About 30 firefighters responded to the fully-involved structure fire, which started at 4769 70th St. and caused "substantial damage," said Mike Scott, fire chief at Heartland and Rescue in La Mesa.

The fire was reported knocked down shortly after 7 p.m.

Hart said firefighters heard explosions when they first arrived at the residence.

David Colo, a 10-year neighborhood resident, called 911 to report the fire shortly before 5:30 p.m. He said loud screaming came from inside the residence before hearing "some popping" and then seeing smoke.

He said police have been at the residence several times in the past for drug-related problems and called the fire "inevitable."

"This was the best thing, I think, that could have happened,'" Colo said. "Now the fire department and police department will really know what was going at that property ... Hopefully they'll clean up this blight in our nice, quiet neighborhood."

Flames and smoke were visible from a distance. No one was injured in the fire.

Property manager Rhonda Baker blames the fire on a female tenant who lived in the back apartment where the fire started.   She told NBCSanDiego that she had just filed an eviction notice hours before the fire.

She also said the woman who lived in the apartment had two young children and hadn't paid rent for a year and that was one reason why she was being evicted.

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