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SAN DIEGO — A fire broke out at an auto-wrecking yard in Otay Mesa Wednesday evening, sending flames and a plume of black smoke high into the air.

The facility, Ecology Recycling, is used to strip cars before smashing them. One of its piles caught fire.

“We got a fire in one of those piles then it spread to others,” said Battalion Chief Rick Ballard with San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

Ballard did not know how the fire started but he knew what kept it burning for more than 90 minutes.

“Car parts, you have old oils, you have plastics, all kinds of burning debris that puts up one dark, dark cloud,” Ballard said.

The fire started after the facility had closed. Workers were called back to help firefighters by using heavy equipment to lift and move smoldering metal so firefighters could put water directly on the burning debris.

No one was hurt while extinguishing the flames. The amount of damage was minimal, as the smashed car frames were of little value.