Fire, smoke at tow yard prompts Olde Highway 80 closure

LAKESIDE, Calif. - A fire of unknown origin spread through a salvage yard near Lakeside Monday afternoon, sending plumes of thick black smoke into the air until crews could quell the stubborn flames.

The blaze at Miller's Auto Recycling -- in the 15200 block of Olde Highway 80 in Flinn Springs -- erupted shortly before 1 p.m., according to the Lakeside Fire Protection District.

It took crews about an hour to subdue the fire, which burned over junked cars and other scrapped objects. No injuries were reported.

Witness Tim Parker couldn't believe what he saw, telling 10News, "The flames were shooting at least 100 feet tall. I got video, I got pictures, all kinds of stuff when it's going high in the air."

Eric Shapiro, who was across the street talking to Parker when the fire broke out, said, "I was looking over his shoulder and saw some flames. I was watching the backhoe and thought maybe the backhoe lit this up, didn't know for sure; the flames got big, the backhoe left and I thought, we'd better call 911 and get the fire department here."

There were also concerns about a propane gas tank storage farm on the adjacent property, but firefighters were able to stop the fire from moving that direction or up the hill where homes lay on the other side.

Firefighters had to worry about explosions, too, as they methodically battled the raging flames. Lakeside Fire Dept. Battalion Chief Gregory Schreiner told reporters, "The cars are stacked and we're slowly pulling them apart as we extinguish each one to get to the seat of the fire."

Firefighters were grateful for the breeze, as it dissipated the smoke quickly as the winds blew through.

A hazardous materials team was on scene as well to make sure that no contaminated run-off water made its way to a nearby stream.

The fire and heavy smoke prompted the closure of Olde Highway 80 in the area in both directions. The road was reopened just after 2 p.m.

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