Fire Destroys Historic WWII Hangar

Risk Logic Inc. (RLI) is a consulting engineering company that provides Loss Prevention Services. Since 1997, we have been working in regions all over the world utilizing the most advanced and current standards.

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December 13th, 2023

On November 7th, 2023, at 1:30 a.m., the Orange County Fire Department received a call about a fire in the Tustin Air Base’s historic WWII hangar. Originally designed for blimps, it was the largest wooden structure ever measuring 1,000 x 300 feet, making it easy for the fire to spread quickly. Tustin fire crew called in Chinook helicopters, which typically assist with fighting wildfires. The flames overcame too much of the facility to be worth fighting, so rescuers waited to extinguish the blaze until after the structure collapsed.

Picture of the historic WWII hangar in flames.

Smoke poured into the air, compromising the air quality of residents and businesses around the area. Air quality tests showed no need to shelter in place. A strong windstorm compromised the north hangar over 20 years ago, and although the military was able to stabilize the roof it remained closed. The hangar, featured in numerous films such as The X Files, JAG, Austin Powers, and Star Trek, is now destroyed. No injuries were reported, and the investigation is ongoing.

Orange County rescuers fight the hangar fire from the ground.

Wooden and canvas structures present many hazards; however, Risk Logic can offer inspections and valuable recommendations to help prevent tragedies like this.

Recommendations could include installing automatic sprinkler protection and annual inspections to evaluate loss prevention practices, especially for a structure with a higher exposure attributed to the materials used in its construction. Please consider contacting Risk Logic to learn more about fire protection and prevention.

Built in 1942, the structure stood over 17 stories high.