Residents living near the SDG&E substation at Palm Avenue and Thermal Avenue were blasted awake at about 6:30 on Saturday morning, December 3, by three loud explosions.
Soon after, residents observed fire and smoke coming from an equipment room at the rear of the substation, which faces Jalisco’s Restaurant parking lot. Fire crews were reportedly called at about 8:00 a.m.
From the parking lot, responding fire crews sprayed water and foam on the room, on an adjacent burning fence, and they doused four flaming palm trees; they awaited the arrival of the hazardous materials team before entering the substation yard.
San Diego police went door-to-door evacuating residents on Palm Avenue between 16th and 17th streets and in the 1700 block of Dahlia Avenue. CHP officers closed the on- and off-ramps to westbound Palm Avenue from Interstate 5 as SDFD crews battled the blaze.
Even though police had evacuated the area after reportedly sighting poisonous gases, San Diego Fire Department battalion chief Glen M. Holder downplayed any health threats to nearby residents.
Authorities allowed residents back into their homes and had the streets open just before 11 a.m.