Massive fire rages at South Bay recycling plant

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SAN DIEGO -- A massive plume of smoke rose from a recycling plant fire in Otay Mesa Friday evening.

Flames broke out at the auto recycling plant, on Heritage Road near Brown Field, around 5:30 p.m. Smoke could be seen for miles in each direction, including from Tijuana, viewers told FOX 5.

Crews with Cal Fire, National City, Imperial Beach and Chula Vista fire departments all joined San Diego Fire-Rescue to battle the flames.

Crews worked from the edge of the blaze, dousing flames with fire hoses through fencing. Pilots in water-dropping and chemical foam-dropping aircraft also joined the battle.

"These fires take a long time to extinguish because of all the debris," Monica Munoz of the SDFD said.

Mario Delamora, who owns Kobi Auto Recycling, said he’s not sure if the fire started on his property or a neighboring one, but it moved fast.

"We heard two explosions right away, like 'Boom, boom,' and we went out to see what happened. It was a lot of fire behind the office," Delamora said.

Getting water to the area proved to be a challenge for fire crews due to a limited water supply. "We have a hydrant pretty far away, so our hands were tied for quite a while before we could actually get water on the fire," said San Diego Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Steve Salaz.

Crews had knocked down the bulk of the fire by 10 p.m., but overhaul operations were expected to last through the night, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

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