Crews Douse Hot Spots on Fire-Ravaged Oceanside Pier

Crews Douse Hot Spots on Fire-Ravaged Oceanside Pier

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire burning on the West end of the Oceanside Pier, in Oceanside, Calif., on April 25, 2024. (Sandy Huuffaker/AFP via Getty Images)

City News Service

City News Service

4/26/2024

Updated: 4/26/2024

OCEANSIDE, Calif.—Firefighters April 26 continued dousing smoldering hot spots on the fire-ravaged Oceanside Pier, a day after flames of unknown origin engulfed the western end of the historic seafront landmark in the northwestern corner of San Diego County.
Late Friday morning, city officials announced that firefighters were able to save at least 90 percent of the iconic 1,950-foot-long wooden structure, though the blaze had severely damaged a building atop it housing the Brine Box seafood vendor, a bait shop, and a vacant restaurant site that housed a Ruby’s Diner until three years ago.
No one was injured in the blaze, which erupted shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday in the shuttered commercial space, which had been undergoing renovation for a new food-services tenant, according to the Oceanside Fire Department.
Crews from agencies across the county battled the flames on the burning pier, aboard a pair of firefighting boats and water-dropping helicopters as the blaze sent a towering plume of black smoke to the east. The Coast Guard sent in a cutter to aid in handling the emergency.
After about three hours, the Oceanside Fire Department announced that crews had contained the flames to the seaward end of the pier and were making good progress toward fully extinguishing them.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, authorities said.
Late Friday morning, Oceanside Fire Chief David Parsons told reporters that crews were getting close to subduing the blaze after nearly 20 hours of nonstop effort.
“We’re not going to declare the fire under control quite yet, but we’re almost there,” Mr. Parsons said during a briefing a short distance from the pier.
At that point, 48 personnel—36 firefighters and 12 lifeguards—remained at the scene.
Over the course of the extended firefight, crews put a “trench cut” in the deck, removing a section of it to allow for access to flames burning underneath it and prevent the blaze from traveling any farther down the pier to the east, the fire chief explained.
Mr. Parsons said he believed the structure likely will be reparable, though he added that how long such renovations might take remained unclear.
“The city engineer has done an initial basic evaluation,” he said. “Everything looks stable ... up to the point of the cut that we created. However, we still don’t have a full assessment of where the fire has burned.”
Firefighters try to extinguish a fire burning on the West end of the Oceanside Pier, in Oceanside, Calif., on April 25, 2024. (Sandy Huuffaker/AFP via Getty Images)

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire burning on the West end of the Oceanside Pier, in Oceanside, Calif., on April 25, 2024. (Sandy Huuffaker/AFP via Getty Images)

A fire burns on the West end of the Oceanside Pier, in Oceanside, California on April 25, 2024. (Sandy Huuffaker/AFP via Getty Images)

A fire burns on the West end of the Oceanside Pier, in Oceanside, California on April 25, 2024. (Sandy Huuffaker/AFP via Getty Images)

City officials planned to continue assessing the condition of the structure through the day Friday.
“Starting right about now, we’re taking a tactical pause, meaning we’re stopping operations to kind of take a look at what’s happening and get some eyes on without any [firefighting] activity,” Mr. Parsons said during the beachfront news conference.
Pending further notice, a Coast Guard-issued safety zone will be in force, prohibiting the public from entering any areas within 500 yards of the charred pier, according to city officials.
“There is a lot of debris in this water,” Mr. Parsons noted. “There’s a lot of runoff from the fire. We don’t want people getting sick [from] contacting the potentially contaminated water. At this point, it’s just fire debris—[it] should be minimal, but we don’t know, and we have our partners at county health coming in to help evaluate that.”
As of midday Friday, the Strand, the nearest street to the pier, remained closed north of the structure to Surfrider Way due to the ongoing emergency-services operations.
The pier, billed as the longest wooden structure of its kind on the West Coast, is a descendent of one that was built in the 1880s and fell to a storm in 1890. A replacement was built in 1896 and lasted six years before it too was destroyed by severe weather. The current incarnation of the tourist-attraction landmark opened to the public in 1987.
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