Massive Hemet fire, countless explosions, rock area residents

HEMET — Firefighters from multiple city and county fire agencies battled a massive blaze that destroyed a Hemet business last night, March 15. The destructive blaze, that caused much of the large building to collapse in on itself, happened in the 1000 block of N. State St., near Crows Nest Place.

Despite immediately requesting a mutual aid response and additional resources to the scene, no other agencies were immediately available due to other fires being battled throughout the area. Although Cal Fire and City of Menifee eventually sent several additional apparatus and firefighters, officials spent more than seven hours battling Friday’s stubborn blaze, and several more hours at the scene putting out hotspots and conducting mop up and overhaul operations.

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City of Hemet Fire and Police Departments were first alerted to the fire around 8 p.m., after receiving numerous calls reporting a large commercial structure fire. 911 callers reported an enormous blaze, with multiple explosions that continued rocking the area and rattling nearby residents’ nerves for several hours. Officials later reported from the scene that the explosions were likely caused by propane and gas tanks on numerous vehicles that were destroyed by the blaze.

As the first responding engine company was still headed to the scene, they reported seeing heavy smoke and flames billowing from the business and immediately began requesting additional resources to the scene. In response, Hemet Fire Department dispatched all but one of the city’s engine companies, as well as their truck company to the blaze.

Firefighters reportedly spent seven hours suppressing a massive blaze that destroyed a Hemet business last night. RMG News Media photo

After the city’s Engine 1 and a Battalion Chief arrived at the business and confirmed a huge working fire at a two-story commercial structure, officials immediately put out a mutual aid call-out, requesting additional agencies and resources to the scene. However, due to other area fires being battled, no additional resources were readily available.

Despite nearly the entire city’s force of firefighters at the location, with no other available resources the on-scene Battalion Chief made the call to pull back and fight the fire defensively, while protecting other area buildings and businesses.

About an hour later, as City firefighters continued battling the stubborn blaze, the first of several mutual aid responders from Cal Fire and City of Menifee began arriving with additional engines and another ladder truck to assist with the ongoing fire suppression efforts.

Several hours later, as firefighters continued battling the enormous blaze, the building’s roof and concrete walls collapsed into the structure from the intense heat and flames.

Fire officials later reported they managed to extinguish the fire around 3 a.m., however resources remained at the scene for much of the remaining morning, conducting extensive overhaul operations.

A photo taken by area resident Eva Miller-Newbold after Friday’s fire shows the devastation caused by the intense blaze.

Several area streets were effected by the fire and were closed to allow better access for firefighters, as well as their equipment and vehicles.

The building and all its contents were completely destroyed and all were considered a total loss, but no firefighters or citizens were injured.

Contacted this morning for additional details and information, Hemet Fire’s Cpt. Ernie Moreno said the cause of the massive blaze is unknown and remains under investigation.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.

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RMG News Media photos

Timothy Franzese/Public Safety Incidents photos

Gary Rainwater photos

RMG News Media video
Gary Rainwater video
Gary Rainwater video
Timothy Franzese/Public Safety Incidents video
Timothy Franzese/Public Safety Incidents video
Krys Maiden/Facebook video

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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