A downed power line, an inoperable fire hydrant and a maze of cars challenged crews battling a blaze at an Orangevale car lot on Thursday night.
Flames were visible through windows and doors when firefighters responded to a 9:41 p.m. call of a fire believed to have started in the facility’s maintenance building, fire officials said.
“Car lot fires are always terrible,” said Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District Capt. Chris Vestal. “They are more jam-packed than parking lots. Maneuvering through that makes it tough setting up apparatuses and getting hoses in place.”
That was just one of numerous challenges responders faced during the hourlong firefight.
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A Folsom police officer, who was first to arrive on the scene, found an electrical line on the roof that was sparking, Vestal said.
“This caused a secondary challenge for us,” Vestal said, noting that an active electrical line downed on a metal structure could “possibly (be) energizing the whole building.”
Responders then found that a nearby hydrant was inoperable, further delaying the fire attack, Sacramento Metro Fire said.
Fires in maintenance facilities are always a challenge, Vestal said, because “there are a lot of flammable liquids, and the cars themselves, with fluids and upholstery” contribute to the fire load.
“We encounter the same things with residential garage fire,” Vestal said for comparison, but the amount of motor oil, fuels, cleaning agents and the density of cars themselves add to the hazard.
Sacramento Metro and Folsom fire department responders found employees on site but were able to clear all buildings of people without injuries.
Four to six cars were thought to be damaged, according to Sacramento Metro Fire.
Firefighters are not assuming at this time that the electrical line sparked the blaze, which may have been downed by the fire, Vestal said.