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December 15, 2010 (La Mesa) – An early morning fire at 4:30 a.m. Monday resulted in the death of a cat and sent the owner to a hospital with respiratory problems sustained while trying to locate her pet in a smoke-filled apartment unit.


Heartland Fire dispatched a response for a structure fire in the 8100 block of Lemon Ave. The first arriving fire unit found smoke in the streets. Firefighters identified the source and encountered heavy smoke coming from an upper unit of a two-story, 10 unit apartment complex.


Heartland Fire & Rescue units from La Mesa, Lemon Grove and El Cajon, assisted by one engine from San Miguel Fire, had the fire under control within 15 minutes. The solo occupant, a 38 year old woman, was transported to UCSD with respiratory issues related to smoke inhalation. Her injuries were sustained when she made attempts to find her cat in the unit prior to the fire department’s arrival. The cat was later found dead, overcome by smoke.


The cause of the fire is currently under investigation. Damage to the structure and contents is estimated at $170,000. Crews were able to limit the fire damage to the one unit and keep it from spreading to other units due to a well coordinated attack on the fire.


Red Cross is assisting the displaced occupant. One firefighter sustained a minor injury, and was treated and released at the scene. Occupants of other units were allowed back into their units at approximately 0530, but were without power until SDG&E could isolate the burned unit.


There was no working smoke detector found in the apartment.

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