San Diego

Feds Called to Investigate Massive Warehouse Fire That Caused $3.5M in Damage

The massive fire that burned for hours -- the second in a matter of months -- caused about $3.5 million in damage

A national firearms and explosives team was called in to assist with the investigation into a multi-million dollar fire that destroyed an auto shop warehouse in Kearny Mesa, officials said Friday. 

More than two dozen agents with the National Response Team (NRT) and Los Angeles branches of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will join the investigation into the fire at the Off Road Warehouse on Balboa Avenue. 

The massive fire that burned for hours -- the second in a matter of months -- caused about $3.5 million in damage and resulted in a total loss for the business, the ATF said. 

The agency said they are typically called in to investigate losses of this magnitude. 

"This is the second fire in four months, give or take," said Off Road Warehouse co-owner Nate Mullen. "Thank God we have 24 ATF people on site." 

The federal team was brought in at the request of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department and would work alongside local fire investigators to determine the cause of the blaze. 

NRT agents will re-construct the scene to identify the origin of the fire and, ultimately, the cause. 

"They're going to work non-stop through the weekend, 24/7," said Mullen. "This is a big deal. However this may have been caused, it is a big deal." 

The fire broke out at the large warehouse near the intersection of Convoy Street and Balboa Avenue at about 1:30 a.m. More than four hours after the fire ignited, crews were still working to get a handle on the blaze. 

The massive fire was finally knocked down just before 6 a.m., allowing for a local Metro Arson Strike Team (MAST) to begin their investigation, though there were challenges, like a collapsed roof that prevented firefighters from going inside, SDFD Battalion Chief Ted Moran said. 

The first fire at the same warehouse was reported on Nov. 16 and also prompted a two-alarm response. It was not clear if the fires were connected. 

There were no injuries reported. 

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