A mysterious fire destroyed a beloved Tustin, Calif., landmark this week when the north hangar at Tustin’s former Marine Corps Air Station, famous for housing blimps used in WWII, was burnt to the ground on Tuesday.
The Orange County Fire Authority arrived at the scene and discovered flames shooting through the roof of the wooden building around 1 a.m., Tuesday morning, per CBS. Responders struggled to extinguish the fire because the former Air Force base’s water was shut off since it hadn’t been in operation since 1999.
“We had to create a relay system, using over 1,000 feet of hose dropped on the ground to get water from hydrants on the street to our trucks on the other side of the building,” Capt. Thanh Nguyen, OC Fire Authority told CBS.
Despite the help of 70 firefighters and three helicopters typically used to combat wildfires, the fire raged on until it burnt out on its own, according to The New York Times. The fire was considered under control around 10 p.m. Tuesday evening.
The Tustin Police Department and major crime investigators have launched an investigation into the cause of the fire.
“Well they’re working hand in hand with the Orange County Fire Authority’s arson unit as well,” said Tustin police Lieutenant Ryan Coe said, per CBS. “Obviously, this is a big structure. … We need to try to figure out where did this thing start inside here and how did it start.”
Dozen of Tustin residents arrived at the scene to watch as the landmark collapsed. Several people posted photos and videos from the incident on social media.
Tustin Hangar Fire pic.twitter.com/umwJOsCPER
— kaitlyn (@kkaiitwin) November 7, 2023
Worth mentioning how iconic these massive hangars are/were to the City of Tustin, from the design of the town logo, and even in a mural at the local Trader Joes. Luckily the one that burned was off limits bc of the roof caving in. Some folks were in tears watching it crumble. pic.twitter.com/znl8pL0SGs
— Sam Carter (@Cartarsauce) November 7, 2023
Last remaining pieces of the Tustin hangar. Gone in less than 24 hrs. pic.twitter.com/Yt5EQRlnEz
— Salina Mendoza (@inababi) November 8, 2023
The two hangars on the base were some of the largest wooden structures built in the 20th Century, according to The New York Times.
Originally built in 1942, the wooden hangars stood 17 stories high and were 1,000 feet long by 300 feet wide. They were used to house blimps that patrolled the U.S. coastline during war times, the Tustin Area Historical Society states and became designated as National Landmarks in 1975. The base had closed operations in 1999.
The hangars are also known for being featured in various films, including “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” “Pearl Harbor,” and 2009’s “Star Trek.”