Firefighters outside the home where three died in an early-morning fire. Courtesy OnScene.TV

Crews extinguishing a possible arson fire that tore through a Mountain View-area home Thursday morning found the bodies of three people apparently killed by the blaze.

Flames and smoke engulfed the single-story house in the 300 block of South 38th Street for unknown reasons about 6:15 a.m., according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

Neighbors told arriving firefighters that people were screaming inside the burning home, but steel bars on the door and windows made it difficult for firefighters to enter. Crews found the bodies after forcing entry to the structure.

It took firefighters about 15 minutes to subdue the flames.

No details about the unidentified victims, including approximate ages and genders, were immediately available.

San Diego police Lt. Matt Dobbs said authorities suspect the deadly blaze may have resulted from an act of arson.

“During the preliminary evaluation of the scene to determine the cause and origin of the fire, the investigators discovered suspicious circumstances which led them to believe the fire could have been intentionally set,” he said.

Due to those findings, the San Diego Metro Arson Strike Team — which consists of investigators from the city fire department, the SDPD and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — was called in to seek to probe its cause.

“It is still very early in the investigation, and little is known about the circumstances leading up to the fire,” Dobbs said early Thursday afternoon. “Homicide investigators will be working with the MAST investigators to determine the cause and origin of the fire and if it involved foul play. We do not believe there are any outstanding suspects or dangers to the community at this time.”

Authorities set the monetary losses at $200,000 to the structure and $100,000 to contents.

A Chihuahua and a pitbull terrier that lived at the home survived the blaze, officials said. Personnel with the San Diego Humane Society took custody of the dogs and brought them to a shelter for veterinary evaluations and emergency boarding, the animal welfare agency reported.

Updated at 4:40 p.m. April 1, 2021

City News Service contributed to this article.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.