The fire broke out at 4 p.m. in a brushy area near the intersection of Famosa Boulevard and Valeta Street, an area at the east end of the Famosa Slough and bordering the Point Loma Tennis Club and its 388 condos at 2650 Worden St.
San Diego Police officers began shouting to residents of one wing of the two-story condos near the fire to begin evacuating as heavy smoke reduced visibility and the building appeared to be in danger.
Before a small army of firefighters quelled the blaze it burned the green windscreen material off the west side of tennis courts at the complex just feet from some residences.
When the first of two engines arrived on the scene following the 4:03 alarm they reported a small amount of white smoke coming from a difficult-to-reach area. As a second engine arrived moments later crews began pulling hoses to a nearby fire hydrant.
However when trying to drag hoses to the burn site, steady winds began pushing the fire closer to the condos and a full vegetation fire response was sounded. This call brought several more engines and trucks to the scene along with a helicopter and a trio of battalion chiefs. Some engines entered the condo complex to get as close as possible to the flames.
Nervous residents gathered on the damaged tennis court to watch firefighters spraying water from several hydrants on the flames from different directions, stopping the fire's advance just as it reached the property line of the tennis club. Several owners thanked passing firefighters for their efforts.
Fire Department supervisors used a drone for the first time in department history to survey the fire's progress and direct efforts to extinguish it. They warned members of the public that private use of drones at fire scenes is strictly prohibited and could cause aerial firefighting efforts to be suspended in a major incident.
The fire department's helicopter, circling overhead at a low altitude, also drew onlookers to the area.
The cause of the fire was not known. Several persons reported seeing juveniles on bicycles in the vicinity earlier.