Firefighters used an ax to tear through the bars on a window of a building on El Cajon Boulevard Monday, rescuing a man who was trapped inside as a small fire burned.
The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said a fire sparked at Ann’s Spa at 2228 El Cajon Blvd. just after 6 a.m. The building is next to The Cave of Wonders jewelry and gift shop, and across the street from The Lafayette Hotel.
“The building appears to be abandoned,” SDFD Battalion Chief Lane Woolery explained.
Though the business is abandoned, Woolery said there was an unknown man inside the building during the fire -- and he couldn’t get out on his own.
When firefighters arrived, they saw light smoke coming from the building and the man standing at the window. Woolery said the man was stuck behind bars covering the window.
Firefighters used an ax to remove the bars and were able to pull the man to safety. He was taken to a local hospital, Woolery said, though the extent of his injuries is unknown.
Woolery said the investigation into the fire is ongoing and officials would remain at the scene for a few hours gathering evidence. At this point, it is unknown if the man inside the building is a transient or a squatter.
The battalion chief said squatters are always a possibility in vacant buildings. Many businesses remain shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic and should be secured.
“If you’re a business or a landlord and your business is unoccupied, it’s incumbent upon you to make sure the building is secure so that squatters don’t occupy it," Woolery warned.
Woolery said the fire was fairly small and contained to one room of the building. It appears to have burned through some rubbish and carpet in that area, he added.
The man rescued from the building was the only person found inside.
No one else was hurt.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.