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House fire causes $2 million in damage

A three-story, 7,000-square-foot La Jolla Shores mansion under construction on Spindrift Drive was completely destroyed in a blaze that broke out just before 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26.

“The cause of the fire is still under investigation and we haven’t ruled out any possibilities at this time,” said Maurice Luque, spokesman for the San Diego Fire Rescue Department.

If it hadn’t been for quick work by area firefighters, Luque said, several other homes in the area that were threatened could have been lost.

“Crews did an excellent job of keeping the fire from spreading to homes on both sides of the house that was under construction,” he said. “There was only a 5-foot clearance between the structure being built and the homes nearby. The walls of one home got scorched, but there was no extensive damage.”

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Embers burned some brush two houses to the south in a small canyon that caught fire. They also landed on a wood shake shingle roof about four houses away, according to Luque, “but they put the fire out before it could spread. It was very challenging.”

The fire was so hot, it partially melted a portable toilet 50 feet away.

Seven engines, four fire trucks and about 75 firefighters and support personnel responded to the blaze.

The fire was first spotted by Capt. Kevin McWalters from Station 9 who was doing a neighborhood fire inspection and saw the column of smoke. He arrived on the scene within four minutes of the fire’s start.

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Gary Emerson, an engineer and third-generation firefighter with San Diego Fire Department Station 13, said his 14-year-old son, Luke, and his friend, Brian Boermeester, were the first on the fire scene. They saw the flames while surfing at La Jolla Shores.

“My son grabbed a garden hose and made an attempt to put it out,” Emerson said. “The fire melted the drapes in the interior of the home next door and was within half a minute of breaking through that window and involving the whole house.”

The fire-ravaged home is owned by George Krikorian, owner of Krikorian Theatres. He resides in Redondo Beach.