A thick, dark plume of smoke rose over a vehicle salvage yard in Otay Mesa on Wednesday as flames charred several stacks of scrapped cars.
The fire was reported at around 3:15 p.m. at Tito's Metal Salvage Yard on Datsun Street.
SkyRanger 7 was above the fire for nearly an hour as the flames raged on. The smoke column could be seen from miles away.
Several agencies responded, but firefighters were met with a big challenge upon arrival. They needed heavy equipment to move piles of junked cars so they could make sure the fire was out, but the excavator owned by the salvage yard was among the lost property.
In fact, according to witness Cesar Leon, the fire originated within the excavator's engine bay.
About a dozen people tried to douse the fire, but couldn't stop it from growing.
Among the hazards were unstable stacks of cars, black smoke, and tire explosions. All of those factors made it difficult to access the flames.
More than two dozen cars were also destroyed.
No injuries were reported.
"We're all going to go home safe to our families, and that's most important," Leon said.
Firefighters stayed on site overnight to monitor hot spots. As of 11 a.m.m a pile of scrap metal was still smoldering, SDFD said.
The cost of damages caused by the fire was estimated at $150,000.
Check back for updates on this developing story.