A fast-moving, aggressive fire tore through an Alliant International University dorm building Saturday night, leaving 35 students displaced and one firefighter injured.
San Diego Fire-Rescue Department (SDFD) officials responded to a call about the fire at approximately 6:05 p.m. on Saturday evening at the three story dorm. The university is located at 10455 Pomerado Road in Scripps Ranch.
All students were safely evacuated. When firefighters arrived, they could see the flames stretching above the building. The third floor of the building collapsed after crews arrived on scene.
“People were running around saying there was a fire, an explosion,” displaced student Christian Rubin Nielsen said. "The flames were just getting bigger and bigger, and we went to the back side where the fire started and it just got bigger."
Nielsen, a student from Denmark, lived in the building that caught fire. He and his fellow student Daniel Mueller, of Germany, kicked down a neighbor's door as flames filled the building.
"We just had to kick the door in to look if there were some people sleeping, just to get people out of there so no one was injured," Christian explained to NBC 7 San Diego.
A firefighter on scene was injured while fighting the blaze and suffered minor injuries, said SDFD Capt. Amador. He was transported to Sharp Medical Center.
It took crews nearly two hours to put out the 2-alarm "defensive" blaze, which left more than $350,000 of loss in its wake. Firefighters said access to the building was difficult as the blaze raged. There is a fire hydrant located right in front of the building.
In cell phone video of the fire, the flames could be seen overtaking sections of the on-campus housing complex.
“Access was a big problem, but once the crews got here we had knocked down about an hour and forty minutes,” Bat. Chief David Pilkerton explained. “That tells you how hard the firefighters worked an hour forty minutes to save this building."
Workers are boarding up the co-ed dorm, which housed four students per two bedroom. The dorm did not include any kitchens.
Classes at the university will resume as normal on Sunday. Students have since been placed in vacant housing across the street. The Red Cross was on scene to help students.
"I'm just happy our staff and faculty, they were already on site when the fire broke out and here before the Fire Department. They helped allthe students right away last night. No major injuries, no minor injuries from students. We're very pleased about that," said Andy Vaughn, interim Alliant International University president.
Structural engineers and firefighters were in scene Sunday to determine whether the dorm is a total loss or not.