A three-alarm fire tore through a cliffside home in Leucadia overnight, displacing the woman who lives there and gutting the home just two days before Christmas.
A decorative white Christmas tree stood on top of a house on Neptune Avenue marked by smoke and a caved-in, burned-out roof. The fire started around 10:30 p.m. Sunday, according to Encinitas Fire Department Battalion Chief Jorge Sanchez.
The home sits atop bluffs near the ocean and the hours-long firefight caused the cliff below the home to erode, according to the City of Encinitas.
Initially, firefighters felt they had a handle on the fire. However, after an hour of fighting the flames, first responders were getting fatigued.
The situation was upgraded to a three-alarm fire. Eventually, nearly 40 firefighters were tackling the blaze.
After two hours, first responders were able to knock down the fire. No other nearby homes were seriously damaged.
Because of the heavy amounts of water being dumped on the blaze, fissures were created on the saturated bluff beneath the home, the city's geotechnical expert said.
One woman was displaced but she was able to get out of the burning home on her own, according to Sanchez.
Further evaluation would be conducted once the rain subsided. In the meantime, the city posted warning signs to keep beachgoers away from the unstable bluffs.
Neighbors were advised to seek an evaluation to see if their properties remained stable.
Fire investigators are working to find the origin or cause of the fire.
The house fire sparked as the first storm system of the holiday week moved into San Diego County.