What began as a tree fire was pushed by gusting winds into an industrial pallet yard and warehouse complex in Compton Wednesday, creating a plume of thick black smoke visible from as far as Orange County and prompting evacuations as embers ignited blazes at homes in an adjacent neighborhood.
A passerby initially reported a fire burning in a tree near Alameda Street and East Rosecrans Avenue around 4:30 p.m., fire officials said.
With the Southland in the tail end of a Santa Ana wind event, gusty conditions quickly pushed the flames into the industrial yard, sparking an inferno as flames chewed through flammable materials stacked in the yard and inside metal-roof structures on the property.
Sporadic small explosions could be seen within the fire.
Fire crews from Compton, Santa Fe Springs, Downey and Los Angeles County were among those responding to the blaze, which quickly went to a third alarm. Unable to access the property due to the raging inferno, ladder crews were relegated to a surround-and-drown attack, pouring water on the flames from above.
The winds, however, continued pushing embers from the blaze into adjacent neighborhoods, where at least three structures were damaged, including one several blocks away. Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the neighborhood and were evacuating some homes. It was unclear how many residents were affected.
There were no immediate reports of any injuries.
Sheriff’s officials urged residents to avoid the area, announcing a series of road closures around the blaze.
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