By Len Ramirez

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A 3-alarm fire in the East San Jose foothills was brought under control Tuesday afternoon by the San Jose Fire Department, but not until after two homes were destroyed.

Neighbors reported the flames on upper McVay Avenue at about 12:30 p.m. and told dispatchers that downed wires might have sparked the fire.

“I heard popping sounds and it was louder than fireworks. And I looked out and saw that there were sparks eminating from what appeared to be power lines,” said neighbor Raymond Su.

The fire was already raging inside one home when crews climbed on top to vent the roof. That sent flames up through the hole like a chimney.

But it also allowed firefighters to keep the fire from spreading beyond two homes. Residents of the homes safely evacuated, but both homes were practically destroyed.

San Jose asked for mutual aid from Milpitas and Santa Clara County Fire to help cover the department’s nearby fire stations.

But as temperatures soared into triple digits, the heat took a toll on firefighters. One firefighter suffered heat exhaustion and was treated at the scene.

“These guys are out here doing heavy physical labor inside a burning building,” said Capt. Mitch Matlow of the San Jose Fire Department.

The official cause of the fire is still under investigation. Residents were being allowed back into the area to survey the damage.