'In a panic': Service dog rescued from home as flames engulfed Southern California community

A service dog was rescued at the last minute on Thursday afternoon during a wind-driven wildfire sparked by burning trash that swept through a Southern California mobile home park.

The owner Rosa Castellon's first concern during the blaze was for her service dog Monster. The wildfire, dubbed the Sandalwood Fire, broke out in Calimesa, California. 

“He was in the home, and I was down the street. And my cousin had called and said your park’s on fire, and I saw it and as I was trying to get over here, and he goes, they’re not letting anybody in the park,” she said. 

Castellon then said she was “in a panic, trying to get back” to her home. But since she was not allowed to enter the area, she began “screaming,” because she said she has to have her dog. 

“Luckily, my cousin, who is an EMT and drives one of the ambulance trucks, he went up there and said that my cousin lives up in the park and her service dog is in there, and he needs to come and needs to get out,” she said. 

At first, the officials were not going to let her cousin in, but “being he is an EMT, he was able to drive the ambulance truck in there and get him out.” 

At that point, Monster was already engulfed in smoke, but he is okay now, she said. 

Monster appeared next to Rosa during a video interview. 

Fire danger is high throughout California after the typically dry summer and early fall. The high temperatures and winds predicted for inland areas of Southern California materialized mid-afternoon Thursday, when the driver of a commercial trash truck dumped a smoldering load to prevent the vehicle from catching fire.

Fire officials were investigating what caused the trash in the truck to catch fire in Calimesa.

The blaze was 10 percent contained Thursday night. It was one of several that broke out amid high winds and dry conditions that prompted California utilities to preemptively cut power to more than 2 million people in high-danger areas to guard against power lines sparking fires. The area that includes the mobile home park still had its power when the fire occurred.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.