Two firefighters hurt in Pacific Beach blaze that burns three homes, destroys three-story under construction

A firefighter watches as another sprays foam on a charred under-construction building.
A firefighter watches as another sprays foam on a two-story building that caught fire around 1 a.m. Sunday on Hornblend Street near Jewell Street in Pacific Beach. The fire damaged three adjacent rental units and melted nearby cars.
(Ana Ramirez/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Two firefighters were briefly hospitalized for burns and exhaustion and released later Christmas morning.


Two firefighters were briefly hospitalized after a third-alarm blaze in Pacific Beach early Christmas morning consumed a three-story building under construction, burned three nearby apartments, set palm trees alight and melted nearby cars and a fire engine.

The fire began around 1 a.m. on Hornblend Street near Jewell Street and within just half an hour had grown into a third-alarm fire, which is bigger and more complex than a first-alarm fire, said San Diego Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Jeff Mitchell.

About 100 firefighters were deployed to extinguish it, he said. It took about an hour for them to knock down.

“The building was in the framing stage, and those always burn extremely hot,” San Diego Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief Brian Raines told OnScene.TV in an interview at the scene.

Charred debris from a collapsed ceiling litters a burned bedroom after a fire.
A bedroom of a rental unit that burned after a two-story building that was under construction caught fire in Pacific Beach.
(Ana Ramirez/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The fire burned three rental units in two nearby houses, melted nearby cars and cast embers that set ablaze several palm trees a few blocks away, Raines added. A nearby high-voltage power line also caught fire, Mitchell said, and the front of one fire engine melted.

The two injured firefighters were briefly hospitalized, medically evaluated for minor burns and exhaustion and released within an hour, Mitchell added.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Staff photographer Ana Ramirez contributed to this report.


12:09 p.m. Dec. 27, 2022: Authorities initially described the building that caught fire as a two-story. They later clarified that part of it was framed to three.