San Diego Fire-Rescue Department

Destructive Apartment Fire Started in Stove, Fire Officials Say

At least four units were deemed uninhabitable by firefighters

A stove malfunction sparked a destructive fire that tore through a small apartment complex Thursday in Serra Mesa, San Diego Fire-Rescue officials said. 

The fire started around 1:20 p.m. at a complex located at 3399 Ruffin Rd, Chief Colin Stowell said. Four units were destroyed, leaving at least two families without a place to stay, officials said.

Crews were able to knock down the flames before they could spread any further.

Heavy smoke filled the air above the apartment complex.

Resident Kayla Bouwens told NBC 7 she began to smell smoke through her window but it didn't really register that it was smoke from a fire.

"It just smelled like a campfire," she explained.

Moments later, she heard loud banging and lots of commotion. When she left her apartment to investigate, she spotted her property manager running out of the building with a fire extinguisher.

"It was that moment that I stepped out of my apartment, looked back, and the sky was just filled with black smoke," she added.

The San Diego chapter of the American Red Cross helped the residents in two of the units. Two adults and two dogs from one apartment and two adults and two kids from another were assisted, a SDFD spokesperson said.

Officials were not sure about the status of the occupants of the other two units. 

Stowell said no one had been inside the apartments at the time of the fire. No injuries were reported. 

Fire investigators determined a stove malfunction caused the fire. They deemed the incident accidental, according to the SDFD spokesperson. 

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