Dozens of firefighters and two helicopters stopped a fire that blackened two acres of grassland along Cabot Road, south of Oso Parkway, and delayed train service and street traffic for about an hour.
"At times, I saw flames shooting up 30 feet," said Tom Cogdell, manager of South County Brake Supply. "But I wasn't worried because they had those helicopters buzzing around and a lot of firemen there."
The dry heat and Santa Ana winds prompted the Orange County Fire Authority to call an additional strike team when the fire began at 12:27 p.m. The extra team wasn't needed, and the fire was contained in about an hour.
"These are very dangerous weather conditions," said Emmy Day, a spokeswoman for the fire agency. "In addition, because of last season's rains, there's a lot more vegetation out there to act as fuel."
The fire burned about a mile from the Mission Viejo Freeway Center and the exclusive Nellie Gail housing tract, but no damage was reported.
The blaze could be seen from Interstate 5 at Oso Parkway, where drivers slowed as smoke wafted across the freeway.
At one point, southbound traffic was backed up about five miles to Lake Forest Drive.
Amtrak train service was held up for about an hour when firefighters closed Cabot Road.
Investigators are seeking to determine the cause of the fire, Day said.