Fireworks went off inside a garage as firefighters battled a fire at a home in the South Bay neighborhood of Nestor early Thursday morning.
San Diego Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Jeff Mitchell said the explosions created a risk to crews battling the blaze at the home in the 1700 block of Thelborn Way, just north of the Tijuana River.
“Imagine the Fourth of July and those fireworks are going off in a confined space. That’s pretty much what it looks like, very loud, sounds like explosives going off," Mitchell said.
Several residents heard the popping sounds and called 911 to report the fire just before 3 a.m.
"First I heard just a few pops. Then it sounded like the finale," Neighbor Darren Thorn said.
The fire started somewhere in the back of the house. When first responders arrived, that part of the home was engulfed in flames.
“Flames were lapping over even the top of the roof of the house,” Mitchell said.
When the explosions started, crews had to back off the firefight. Several crew members were tasked just to ensure the flames didn't spread to neighboring homes.
Despite the added obstacle, firefighters had the blaze under control in 20 minutes. Investigators analyzed the scene but said there was too much damage to determine a cause.
A family of five and several pets -- a dog, cat, pig and two rabbits -- made it out of the home safely but the majority of their home was destroyed, the family told NBC 7. One of their pet rabbits died in the fire.
The family volunteers with their local VFW, who asked their community in a Facebook post to help with donations to get the family back on their feet.
The Red Cross was called to assist the family with living arrangements.
Fireworks are illegal in the city and county of San Diego, including sparklers, firecrackers and poppers, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.