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Hillcrest condos evacuated after early morning fire erupts

Crews evacuate a Hillcrest apartment Friday morning, after a vehicle in the back parking lot caught fire.

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A fire that broke out early Friday morning in the underground parking garage of a Hillcrest apartment complex sent thick, black smoke into the air and prompted authorities to evacuate its residents.
Flames erupted at a two-story complex in the 3900 block of Cleveland Avenue near Lincoln Avenue around 4:40 a.m., according to Capt. Joseph Amador of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. 

Firefighters had a tough time getting to the source of the flames, because there is only one way in and one way out of the garage. Adding to their challenge, crews said the fire and smoke made it difficult to see. 

Meanwhile, some condominium residents woke up to the sound of explosions.  

"My whole unit was shaking, and I checked my computer to see if there was an earthquake and then another one hit,” said resident Robert Maines.

Nearly half a dozen vehicles were destroyed or damaged and firefighters evacuated three dozen people. 

"I had a Saturn Sky convertible that was my baby, but it's gone," said Jeff Robles.

The fire caused about $600,000 in damage to several cars, a storage unit and other property. A water line also ruptured and residents could be forced to stay somewhere else during repairs. 

The fire was contained within 15 minutes and no injuries were reported. The cause remains under investigation.