The fire broke out just before 10 p.m. inside a second-story unit of the La Jolla Chelsea Apartments on Chelsea Avenue.
The woman was in the shower when her pet pug started barking. She got out of the shower to find her couch on fire, said Luque.
The woman panicked and ran outside. "I saw Julie and her little dog Javier, she says he started barking," said neighor Todd Cameron. But the door locked behind her and she couldn’t get back inside to rescue her dog. Cameron and several other neighbors are being hailed heroes for jumping in and trying to help.
"I was watching TV with my parents. Then all of a sudden I heard a big pop and a lady screaming. So I ran outside to see," JJ Phillips said. "I saw Julie, our neighbor. She said her condo was on fire and her dog is inside. So I ran to try to open her door. It was locked. She had locked herself out. So I smacked the door, broke it open, which I couldn't believe I did and the heat and the intensity of the fire just threw me back. I couldn't believe how hot it was."
The neighbors hosed down the fire, while they waited for the fire department.
When firefighters arrived, they found the dog and got it out. The pug died a short time later from smoke inhalation. The dog was the woman's companion and the “love of her life,” said Luque.
Improperly discarded smoking materials started the fire. According to firefighters, smoking materials are the leading cause of house fires.
Damage was estimated at $150,000.