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Father burned, child suffers smoke-inhalation injuries in Carmel Valley apartment fire

A father suffered “significant burns” and one of his children sustained smoke-inhalation injuries in a fire at a Carmel Valley apartment on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 26, authorities said.

The blaze apparently started when a gust of wind ignited some of the father’s smoking materials about 4:30 p.m. in a second-floor unit at The Club Torrey Pines Apartments on Torrey Bluff Drive, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Battalion Chief David Connor told San Diego News Video.

It was unclear what kind of smoking materials the man had in the dwelling, Connor said.

When firefighters arrived to the building — located near the corner of Carmel Country Road and McGuire Drive, across from a shopping center and south of Del Mar Heights Road — they saw smoke coming from the second-floor apartment and raced to fight the flames, Connor said.

As firefighters went up the stairs, the burned man and his child were coming down, the battalion chief said.

Fire and medic crews assessed the pair’s injuries, treated them briefly at the scene and then sent them in ambulances to the specialized burn unit at UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest, Connor said.

Firefighters went into the apartment, where they discovered “a very small fire” in one of the bedrooms, Connor said.

The flames were knocked down by 4:52 p.m., Fire-Rescue Department spokesman Alec Phillipp said.

The fire displaced the family of five that lived in the apartment, including the injured man’s wife and two other children, who were not home at the time of the blaze. They planned to stay with friends or family and declined help from the Red Cross.

Even though the injured father told fire crews it was smoking materials that started the blaze, arson investigators were sent to the home Tuesday evening to determine the exact cause of the flames, Connor said.

“We don’t know what it was — we’re not saying it was legal or illegal — we don’t know yet,” Connor told San Diego News Video. “That’s what we’re investigating now.”

The extent of the injuries to the man and his child were not immediately known, though Connor said the man suffered “significant burns,” and Phillipp said both patients were taken to the hospital with injuries considered acute or traumatic.

No cost estimate of the damage to the apartment was available Tuesday night.

-- Alex Riggins is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune

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