Most Viewed Stories
Vacant auto repair shop goes up in flames
Lack of water pressure hinders firefighters
A dramatic fire Monday afternoon destroyed an old, vacant auto repair shop in the 200 block of West Orange Avenue.
Flames from the fire shot more than 20 feet into the air, as the small shop was completely engulfed in flames when the first fire engines arrived about 4:30 p.m.
A lack of water pressure and live power lines in the area kept firefighters from getting sufficient water onto the building as flames continued for nearly an hour.
At 5:15, the fire was still burning and firefighters continued to protect a small apartment complex immediately to the east of the burning building.
Interim Fire Chief Glenn Irish said they were concerned with the “energized lines” and would wait until Southern California Edison crews arrived to turn off the power before getting into the structure. The roof and at least two walls collapsed, which also hampered firefighters.
“We’ve got really low water supply in this area,” said Irish as he donned his firefighting gear. He said they have been working on plans to improve water pressure in that area of town.
Ricardo Castillo, an off-duty fire captain with the Tulare County Fire Department, was one of the first on the scene. He said he could see flames through a small office window on the northwest corner of the building, but it didn’t take long for them to spread and break through the roof.
“This thing took off in flames really quick,” he said. “In about a minute and a half you could see flames coming out.”
He speculated the age of the old, wooden building and the fact it used to be an auto repair shop probably contributed to the quick spread of the flames. Heavy black smoke could be seen for miles.
Irish said he thought the shop used to be called Castillo’s Auto Repair.
Because the fire only threatened the nearby apartments, firefighters were able to work on the fire and only had to protect the one other building. At one point, firefighters weresprayingwateronthe structure from three sides, but flames kept going.
Police were kept busy keeping onlookers back becauseof thethreat from power lines along Orange and in the alley directly across the street. Orange Avenue was closed from F to G streets.
Irish said it was too early to determine what caused the fire.
The blaze was the second large fire in the city in a week. Last Thursday, a largehomeon Belleview Avenue was severely damaged by fire. On Oct. 18, the old railroad trestle just west of Main Street burned.