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Stove Fire at Villa Knolls Apartments Leads to Smoke Inhalation for Student

Trucks from San Diego and three La Mesa fire stations brought blaze under control within 5 minutes.

Updated at 8 p.m. Sept. 27, 2012

A 20-year-old San Diego City College student, roused from an afternoon nap by a fire in the kitchen, was treated for smoke inhalation Thursday after throwing water on the flames and being driven from her upstairs unit.

The victim at the Villa Knolls apartments was Shayna Hassan, 20, said her boyfriend, David Drake, 21, of Paradise Hills, who rushed to the scene. Drake said Hassan lived with her mother, who was at work in Golden Hill when the blaze broke out a little before 4 p.m.

“She attempted to put the fire out with water, but made it much worse,” said Sonny Saghera of Heartland Fire and Rescue. “And then the fire just kind of flashed and took off—and that’s when she got out of the apartment.”

What on the stove caught fire?

“She didn’t say,” Saghera said.

Hassan, warmly covered after being given oxygen, was alert, sitting upright and talking in an ambulance at the scene. Her mother added a comforting presence.

Damage to the apartment at 5365 Marengo was estimated at $50,000, and the Red Cross was helping the pair find lodging, officials said.

At least five fire units from San Diego and La Mesa—including Stations 11, 12 and 13—responded to several fire calls, Saghera said. The fire was knocked down under 5 minutes.

Marengo Avenue just north of Fletcher Parkway was closed in both directions for a time.

The manager of the complex, who gave only hist first name, Michael, said the 36-unit complex was built in the 1970s.

Fire crews were able to protect lower floors with “salvage covers” and carried hot debris in heavy bags outside to limit the use of water inside.

Cause of the fire is under investigation, officials said.

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