Half a dozen people, including a police officer and a child, were injured late Tuesday night after a fire at an Oceanside apartment building, police said.
The fire at Briarcrest Apartments happened shortly before 10:30 p.m. at the 3900 block of Waring Road.
Before officers got to the fire, a mother safely dropped her three-year-old son from a second floor balcony to a Good Samaritan below, Oceanside Police said. That Good Samaritan, a neighbor, helped the mother out of the apartment after catching her son.
Officers arrived to find heavy smoke billowing from inside the apartment, where officers were told that people were still inside. Once the officer entered the apartment, he dragged an unconscious person lying on the floor out of the building.
Once he was out, the officer was nearly overcome by smoke inhalation. He handed his flashlight to Jonathon Alvarez, a neighbor. Alvarez looked inside to find another unconscious person still inside. Alvarez helped the officer pull out another unconscious victim from the apartment.
The two elderly people trapped inside the apartment were both unconscious and in critical condition. They were airlifted to the UC San Diego Medical Center Burn Center. The mother and her son were treated for smoke inhalation at the Tri-City Medical Center.
The officer was treated for smoke inhalation at a hospital and was under observation until Wednesday morning. Another person, a Good Samaritan assisting the officer, was also injured and treated.
The Oceanside Police Department has said they will honor the seven-year police veteran and the Good Samaritan that helped save the lives of residents.
All of this may have started because of a cigarette, police said.
The fire progression was stopped once firefighters worked on scene and the fire did not spread to other apartments or to the attic of the building.