Four people were injured, including a firefighter, and at least 35 people were displaced as three buildings in Oceanside caught fire just after 2 p.m. Saturday, according to the Oceanside Fire Department.
The fire may have begun in the courtyard of a single-family residence, OFD said, though the official cause and origin has not been confirmed. The courtyard was covered with an awning and had an RV parked in it.
Wind drove the flames and extended the fire to the roof of a nearby apartment complex. In total, three buildings with nine residential units were affected.
“I just watched this smog and heard some kind of explosions,” said resident Jose Barbosa. “I come out and saw a guy inside running around with fire on his back. Everyone was scared.”
Red flames and thick grey smoke could be seen coming from the roof of one of the buildings as crews responded to the scene near Division Street. White smoke engulfed the others, according to video obtained by NBC 7.
OFD said there were a "large amounts of combustibles inside and outside of the buildings."
Alfredo Muruato has lived in the same building for 23 years. He evacuated safely with his dog, Bosco, but said his son sustained minor injuries trying to put out the fire.
Muruato said he doesn’t know what will happen to his home now.
The structure fires that began were “fully involved,” OFD said.
“The house right next to it -- and they were smelling the fire,” resident Ramon Uribe told NBC 7. “All I saw was the fire, and I heard the poppings. I heard a bunch of popping, crackling.”
Uribe, his girlfriend, and his mother then evacuated the building.
“Everything started getting on fire -- from the apartment back wall started rising up to the roof,” Uribe said.
Two of the three residents injured were transported to the University of California, San Diego Health Regional Burn Center. The third resident was assessed and released at the scene. Officials said their injuries, as well as the firefighter's, were minor.
More than a dozen fire engines, two ladder trucks, three battalion chiefs, one light and air support vehicle, five ambulances, and two fire prevention specialists, for a total of 76 personnel, responded to the fire. This included every single OFD fire engine and ladder truck, at one point.
Officials said the large response was due to the challenges in fighting the fire.
The fire departments from Oceanside, Vista, Carlsbad, and Camp Pendleton responded. The Oceanside Police Department and San Diego Gas and Electric also assisted.
The Red Cross and a local community center have stepped in to help displaced residents.
No other information was available.
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