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SAN DIEGO — Firefighters were still working to clean up a fire that broke out at an auto-wrecking yard in Otay Mesa Wednesday afternoon as piles of scrap metal continued to smolder Thursday.

“Some of these piles were 20 or 30 feet high and 50 feet wide, so it’s not something that can be done by hand,” a fire official told FOX 5. “We’re using an excavator to move the large pieces of metal, and it’s just difficult to get to them.”

San Diego Fire-Rescue crews doused areas where hot spots were problematic.

The fire started just after 3 p.m. Wednesday along the 6400 block of Datsun Street.

Workers told FOX 5 a backhoe caught fire and the flames quickly spread, burning junked vehicles and machinery.

The intense fire sent thick plumes of black smoke into the air that could be seen for miles around. The flames were mostly contained to the yard, officials said.

Part of nearby Heritage Road was blocked off Thursday as firefighters continued their work, frustrating some who were trying to operate businesses in the area.

Firefighters said they planned to patrol the area over the next few nights to make sure the metal parts that are still smoldering do not flare up.

Investigators are still working to confirm the cause of the fire, which officials said did not result in any injuries.