CHULA VISTA, Calif. (CBS 8) -  A Chula Vista family is now staying with other family members after a fire tore through part of their home.

Smoke billowing from the house fire at 1680 Country Vista Lane in Chula Vista could be seen for miles away shortly after 5:15p.m. Thursday. Neighbors nearby report feeling the heat from the flames more than fifty-feet away.

Private Investigator Patrick Schneemann stopped taking video during a surveillance job nearby and instead captured video of the fire ripping through the garage, before Chula Vista Firefighters were ever on scene.

"When I rolled up I saw someone who was in the truck was backing out of the driveway the front of the truck was a little bit on fire," recalls Schneemann.

The front of that truck now features a melted headlight and charred marks from the fire.  Another truck parked in the driveway couldn't be moved in time and was consumed partly by the flames.

The owner of the truck and others in the home weren't even aware their garage was being taken over by the flames until Donald Wood, a former CAL Fire and Sycuan Wildland Division firefighter, told them.

He noticed the smoke and pulled down the street. He says he told another driver to call 911 and he walked to the front door.

"A lady came out, once she came out I asked if there was anyone else inside and she said her husband was inside," Wood said.

He adds he went in the home and helped get everyone out.   Moments later the first fire trucks arrive and firefighters begin to tackle the blaze.

"Those guys are brave man," Schneemann says. "They go inside the front door and fought the fire in the garage from inside the house it was pretty scary.

Though the fire primarily stayed in the garage, it was seconds away from spreading further.

"There was fire that was creeping into the eves and going into the 2nd floor," said Chula Vista Fire Captain John Bates. "We got up inside the attic and stopped it up there before it could run the attic and take off the roof."

Captain Bates says it's no surprise to him that a former firefighter played a heroic role to get those inside to safety.

"No, I would be surprised if he didn't do that."

News 8 is told the family was renting the home and are now staying with family members.

While fire investigators were at the home Thursday evening, the cause of the fire has not been determined.