Just before 5 a.m. on October 21, two families were awakened when a suspected drunk driver slammed his car into the side of a house on the 43200 block of Corte Almonte in Temecula.
Gerardo Fierro, 20, lost control of his Ford Mustang and severed a gas meter outside a garage before he came to a stop, according to police. The subsequent fire consumed his car, the garage, and damaged part of the neighboring residence.
Freida Hall, who lives nearby, said she awoke to the noise of her barking dogs at about 5:15 a.m, and then she saw the flames.
“He hit the garage so hard that it damaged the car inside of the garage,” Hall said.
She said that a police officer who lives in the neighborhood detained Fierro until authorities arrived. Fierro was taken to a hospital for minor injuries and was ultimately arrested for DUI, said Sgt. Dean Spivacke of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
The families inside of the burning homes — which included six children — escaped without injuries, according to police.
CAL FIRE and county firefighters put out the fire in about 30 minutes, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
Southern California Gas Company sent repairmen out to fix the gas meter, which was reported as having “snapped off below the street.”
Hall said there was a strong smell of gas outside in the neighborhood.
Fierro was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor DUI and released from the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta after he posted a $2500 bond shortly after his arrest.
Officer Spivacke said that although there was extensive damage, Fierro wasn’t arrested for a felony DUI because there was no injury to anyone other than the driver.