Oceanside Pier

Oceanside honors first responders for efforts to save pier from April blaze

To thank the numerous individuals who responded, the city of Oceanside held a special recognition lunch Wednesday at the Pier Amphitheater

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When flames began engulfing the Oceanside Pier on April 25, first responders from more than a dozen agencies and organizations leaped into action to save the structure, and Wednesday the city gave thanks to all who acted.

As a result of direct firefighting efforts and collaborative work between the Oceanside Fire Department and regional partners to keep the city running during the emergency response -- which lasted more than 24 hours -- crews were able to save roughly 93% of the iconic 1,950-foot-long wooden structure.

Emergency services personnel from agencies across the county battled the flames from atop the burning pier, aboard a pair of firefighting boats and with water-dropping helicopters as the blaze sent a towering plume of black smoke to the east. The U.S. Coast Guard sent in a cutter to aid in handling the emergency.

To thank the numerous individuals who responded, the city of Oceanside held a special recognition lunch Wednesday at the Pier Amphitheater.

"We are forever indebted to the courageous people who helped save our iconic pier," Mayor Esther Sanchez said. "Their service and regional cooperation in our time of need preserved this community treasure for generations to come."

San Diego Gas & Electric was recognized for its air helitanker support, as well as San Diego County's ASTREA unit and regional partners including the Carlsbad, Vista and San Marcos fire departments, Cal Fire, the California Office of Emergency Services, Camp Pendleton, San Diego Hazmat, US Coast Guard Sea Otter Cutter and San Diego Harbor Police and Lifeguard boats.

Special recognition was extended to Manson Construction, which was working on the Oceanside Harbor dredge nearby. Their workers initially rushed to the scene and deployed a powerful water pump from the sea.

As a result of the massive interagency response, the Oceanside Fire Department was still able to respond to other emergencies during the blaze.

"Mutual aid agreements allow us to share resources and personnel, ultimately protecting our neighboring communities during major incidents," Oceanside Fire Chief David Parsons said. "We give our sincerest thanks to every agency that answered the call."

On May 10, the city reopened 80% of the pier. It is open daily from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.

According to the city, Oceanside's Engineering Division is in the process of obtaining permits from various regulatory agencies to perform the demolition and repair of the damaged section. It's expected that debris removal will begin in August.

Around 7% of the engraved names along the pier's rail that were added as a fundraiser in 1988 as part of the city's centennial celebrations were damaged or destroyed in the fire. The city is evaluating how to replace the names, and the undamaged ones will be documented for archival preservation.

The current pier is actually the sixth such structure. The first pier was built in 1888 and destroyed by a storm in 1890. Additional piers built in 1896, 1903 and 1926 were also destroyed or severely damaged during storms. The current pier was built in 1987 at a cost of $5 million.

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