Firefighters battle blaze at historic Marine airbase in Orange County

Fire officials are worried that the structure will collapse

Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 07 November 2023 17:55 GMT
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Massive Fire Engulfs Historic Hangar In Tustin, California

Firefighters rushed to a historic Orange County airbase when one of the hangars caught fire on Tuesday morning.

The fire reportedly broke out around 1am at the Marine Corps Air Station in Tustin, according to the Orange County Fire Authority.

The blimp hangar was still burning by 4.30am on Tuesday morning. Fire officials have expressed concerns that the structure will fully collapse, according to KTLA.

“It’s definitely not a normal fire, but today because of the complex fire operation, our incident commanders decided that they are going to use helicopters along with the truck companies,” OCFA Captain Thanh Nguyen said, adding that helicopters are typically only called out for substantial brush fires. “Our firefighters are situated outside [the hangar] and they are placing their units in the most advantageous spots to get water into the structure. Then, should the building collapse, they are not in the line of fire.”

At least three teams were dispatched to help drown the blaze and ensure it could not spread to additional structures on the airbase.

The base, which is owned by the US Navy and used by the US Marines, is a historic landmark. Residents were shocked to see it up in flames.

“It’s a huge landmark and to see them disappearing like this is kind of shocking,” one man, who only identified himself as James, told KTLA.

Another witness speaking to the broadcaster, Connor Ruffallo, was a native of Tustin and said the city was losing a little piece of its history in the flames.

“To have [the hangar] burn down is a tragedy,” he told the outlet. “It’s a piece of history that we are losing today.”

The hangar dates back to WW2 and was used to store blimps. Huge sections of wall and roof are gone now, likely collpased into the interior of the building.

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