By Bob Graham
Published Monday, May 21, 2012
San Bernardino -- As the sun began to set on Sat., May 19, a massive smoke header began rising and drifting to the east, turning a dull orange color as flames fed on an abundance of fuel, and creating a visual distraction that brought traffic on adjacent Interstate 10 to a halt. San Bernadino firefighters began arriving on the scene of massive pallet fire.
Situated on and occupying most of the six-acre parcel, the pallets were stacked neatly, 10-15 feet high, as well as occupying space on semi-trailers parked in the yard. Flames moved rapidly from stack to stack, and soon, the vast majority of the facility was ablaze.
On the Delta side of the blaze was a tractor trailer storage yard. With the flames moving toward the Bravo side, the trailers did not burn, but were affected by heat and were moved by employees who rushed to the scene. On the Bravo side, it was a different story. A brick wall separated the pallet facility from a truck tire business. As the flames grew, embers flew and soon, many of the tires were on fire. One Colton fire crew, who were initially assigned to the Bravo side, described the scene as “looking into hell.” By 2100 HRS, a third alarm had been sounded. By the time the incident was deemed under control, three more alarms would be sounded, bringing in units from as far away as the high desert, dozens of miles away.
Dealing with enough heat to overwhelm spectators a safe distance away, fire crews were able to keep the flames from spreading by using at least six aerial ladders, steady streams from a number of engines and deployed handlines, but the only real choice was to let the fire burn itself out.
According to Otto Schramm, San Bernadino City Fire Public Information Officer, 200 firefighters and support personnel along with their apparatus were on scene. They came from San Bernadino City, San Bernadino County, Colton, Rialto, Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, Redlands, Riverside City, Crest Forest, Running Springs, Big Bear Lake, East Vale, Jurupa Valley, High Grove, Victorville, Adelanto, Phelan and Hesperia. As crews were released early Sunday morning, a bulldozer and hand crew had been assigned to work the debris and eliminate remaining hot spots, a process that was expected to take at least the remainder of the weekend.
Schramm verified there were four buildings on the property, three of which were destroyed; the fourth suffered some damage but was saved by a structure protection crew. He added that the damage totals were still be calculated and that the cause of the fire was being investigated by San Bernadino City Fire Department fire investigators working with San Bernadino Sheriff’s Arson and Bomb Squad members. One firefighter was transported via AMR to Loma Linda Medical Center with a heat-related injury.
Comment Now: Post Your Thoughts & Comments on This Story