Firefighters from three cities battled for more than two hours early Tuesday to extinguish a blaze in an Orange shopping center that was fueled by powerful Santa Ana winds.
The fire caused an estimated $500,000 damage in the complex in the 700 block of North Tustin Avenue, Orange Fire Department Battalion Chief Pete Pedersen said. The fire, reported at 12:49 a.m., destroyed one retail store. Four other business places received extensive damage. One other establishment was moderately damaged, Pedersen said.
The blaze was fought by firefighters from Orange, Anaheim and Garden Grove.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, Pedersen said. It apparently started inside one of the stores and quickly spread through an attic shared by the businesses.
"The wind was definitely a factor," he said. "It spreads the fire and makes it more difficult to fight. The oxygen feeds the fire. We estimate there were winds of 50 m.p.h. blowing. That's a lot of wind."
One firefighter was injured when embers blew into one of his eyes, Orange Fire Capt. Dave Rudat said.
The shops that suffered major damage were Dependable Appliance Center, a hardware store; Betty's Place, a beauty parlor; the Bali, an Indonesian restaurant, and Nutriplace, a health food store. The House of Humor store was destroyed and Opportunity Escrow suffered moderate damage, Rudat said.
"The roof collapsed on five of the businesses. Only in the escrow office did it not collapse," Rudat said.
Toy City, a nearby store, was protected by fire walls, Rudat said. There are no homes in the immediate area.
Later Tuesday in Anaheim, alert residents acted quickly to put out a fire on a wooden shingle roof that might have escalated out of control because of the fierce wind, said Anaheim Fire Investigator Mike Feeney.
The roof fire was caused by sparks from a chimney in a house on the 1700 block of Arbutus Street at 8 a.m., Feeney said. A neighbor saw the fire and called it to the attention of others, who quickly hosed it down, the investigator said. The fire caused $200 in damage.