Fire forces evacuations at downtown apartment bldg. - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Fire forces evacuations at downtown apartment bldg.

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Picture courtesy of Heather Olson; shot from the 7th flr of El Cortez bldg Picture courtesy of Heather Olson; shot from the 7th flr of El Cortez bldg

DOWNTOWN (CBS 8) - Firefighters rescued at least three people from a burning apartment building Thursday night, after a cooking accident sparked a two-alarm fire.

Heavy smoke and flames were pouring from the building when firefighters arrived.

The fire broke out in Unit 19 around 8:00p.m. in a building on the 1300-block of 7th Avenue. The building was quickly evacuated.

The flames spread from the third to the fourth floor and attic. Neighbors say the halls were full of black smoke as they struggled to find their ways out of the burning building.

Firefighters rescued two men who were hanging out of an upper-level window, from an apartment where they were trapped. A woman was also rescued by a firefighter who carried her down three flights of stairs.

Seventy firefighters were able to knock down the fire in about an hour. Four people were taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

The landlord of the building and the Red Cross are working to find temporary shelter for the 20 residents who escaped.

Fire investigators estimate the damage to the building at $1.5 million and the cost of the items lost inside at $750,000.

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