CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. -

Flames shot up into the sky in a controlled fire to destroy a mobile home filled with explosives.

The burn operation, a first of its kind for Riverside County, had some minor hiccups. First there was a delayed start and at one point, neighbors watched nervously from a nearby hotel as a barrier built to protect neighboring homes collapsed from to the extreme heat.

"The way it looked when you saw the fire wall fall down, I thought, 'Oh no, Ivan's place is really going to get it,'" said Randyn Seymon, who lives about 200 feet from the home that burned.

"It was heartbreaking and scary," said Michelle Jost, who lives two blocks from the home.

But firefighters say the wall still bought them crucial time and the fire did exactly what it was supposed to do.

"The explosive materials that were within the mobile home were consumed and then we extinguished it," said Battalion Chief Eric Hauser of the Cathedral City Fire Department.

By morning, the hazardous home was reduced to rubble, but firefighters were able to keep the homes just feet away unscathed.

"We didn't even really have any damage other than a couple cracked windows and that was just from the radiant heat," Hauser said.

"I mean it really is amazing they burned that mobile home down and it didn't burn the other ones," Seymon said.

Those who live in the community were able to return home just after 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

Toni and Jim Short own a unit directly next door to the destroyed home and were on pins and needles watching the fire on TV. They say they're grateful firefighters were able to protect their property. 

"I'm pleasantly surprised, it doesn't look too bad but of course next door it's shambles," Toni said.

Neighbors gathered at the site on their way home, still in shock this happened to their quiet community.

"You think you're safe in your community. I'm just glad that sister called the police," Seymon said.