Firefighters knock down massive blaze at San Juan Capistrano collision repair center
Firefighters stand in front of the San Juan Capistrano collision repair center where a massive wildfire has been burning for most of day. (Photo by Brian van de Ven, Orange County Register/SCNG)
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — The collision repair center where a wildfire in the hills above San Juan Capistrano was burning all day is now being demolished by firefighters.
The blaze, which began as a brush fire about 1:15 p.m. Friday, grew to about 75 acres and forced a closure to the repair yard. It was one of dozens that firefighters are working to control in an effort to avoid the type of inferno that destroyed the entire town of Montecito on Friday.
While the cause — and any number of factors — could be considered in determining whether a fire will grow and become destructive, experts say any number of factors can contribute.
“It can be from people smoking and things like that, or sparks striking things,” said Scott Womack, who teaches fire behavior at Cal State Fullerton.
In this case, the cause, whether a spark caused a spark, is a “good question,” but not a cause for alarm, he said.
“It would be kind of odd if somebody didn’t put a match to the paper towels,” he said. “It’s not like I can do nothing about it if they’re doing something wrong. I can’t say that this is definitely a match.”
“Mostly our main concern is the integrity of the structure,” said Capt. Joe Kornfield with the Orange County Fire Authority.
The wildfire at the repair center was reported around 2:20 p.m. Friday, then grew to about 75 acres in about two hours. By the time firefighters arrived, the blaze was about 2 miles from the center of the site, and firefighters said they had a hard time finding water for the operation.
“We had a lot of challenges when we first got here,” said Capt. Brian O’Dell with the Orange County Fire Authority.