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Fire Devours Upscale Home In Encinitas

Two adults and their three children narrowly escaped injury early today as flames consumed their large home in an upscale Encinitas neighborhood, authorities said.

The fire at 1820 Crest Drive near Birmingham Drive broke out around 6:30 a.m., according to the Encinitas Fire Department. The blaze, still raging at 9 a.m., sent huge plumes of black smoke hundreds of feet into the air.

"The family basically got out with the clothes on their backs," said Encinitas Fire Marshal Bob Scott, noting that the American Red Cross was assisting the victims with temporary housing.

Foul play was not suspected, according to Scott, who said the fire appeared to have started in a laundry room, with the exact cause under investigation.

The two-story home, which had an ocean view, was declared a total loss. Scott estimated the loss at between $400,000 and $700,000.

No neighbors were evacuated, but the intersection of Crest and Birmingham drives was closed down, with no reopening time immediately announced.

Because the burned home sits on a hillside, with a home directly behind it, firefighters were using water sparingly to avoid flooding the undamaged property.

By mid-morning, firefighters were in a defensive stance, outside the structure, letting the fire die down naturally and waiting for the second story to collapse on its own.