ONTARIO (CBSLA) — Firefighters battled a four-alarm fire at a recycling center in Ontario on Tuesday.
The commercial fire was located west of Ontario International Airport at 825 E. State St.
The fire was contained on the property and did not disrupt operations at the airport.
“We have had several power lines that have caught fire, posing that type of a threat,” said Deputy Chief Art Andres, Ontario Fire Department.
The fire started around 2 p.m.
The dozer arrived and was plowing through the recyclable materials.
The fire was expected to continue burning for some time, but by nightfall, firefighters knocked the intensity out of the flames.
Throughout the night, hand crews will be tasked with the tedious work of separating the heaps of material — what burned and what didn’t — piece by piece.
“Very labor intensive job at this point of breaking everything apart and getting it soaked and saturated so it doesn’t catch fire,” said Andres.
No injuries were reported.
“The plume of smoke coming up from the ground looked like it was half-a-mile wide. It was huge,” said Claremont resident Jeff Paul.
It started with a single bundle on fire in the center of the yard. Once that caught, a domino effect.
“It was not very long before it spread to the adjacent ones and they create their own heat and spread rapidly,” said Andres.
People who work in the neighboring businesses were startled by how quickly the flames exploded in size.
“Way high. I mean it was scary. It scared me,” said Christine Evans. “I was like, ‘do we run, do we leave? what do we do?’ ”
Even though many of them have been through this before, and remember the fire that broke out at the same recycling center in 2016. That one fanned by Santa Ana winds.
“We had embers in the yard and the radiant heat was really strong,” said Ron Byars.
The cause of the fire was ruled undetermined.
Fire investigators are reviewing video from the facility to try to determine what sparked the flames.
“If there were any unsafe working conditions or anything unpermitted that resulted in the amount of resources we had to put on this fire, we would potentially do cost recovery,” said Andres.