Fire at Vallejo auto repair yard fire could have been far worse, investigators say

Customers and insurance agencies on Friday were adding up the damage and destruction from a flash fire that consumed a Vallejo repair shop and storage lot. The blaze sent clouds of smoke into the sky and was seen for miles.

Tt all began suddenly and without warning late Thursday afternoon.

Laundromat Manager Carol Vadnias, who works next door to the repair shop, saw it all.

"About 5:15 p.m. I heard a loud explosion. At first, I thought it was just backfire. And that's when we noticed this place was on fire, and then it was just constant explosion after explosion and just flames, flames everywhere," said Vadnais.

Vallejo Fire Department Captain Sean Googens described the scene.

"It was a well involved fire and it was a large fire. So, it was well ahead of us before we were even dispatched to the call," he said.

Vadnais said firefighters quickly arrived at the scene.

"They we here, on top of it, within a few minutes, by 5:20 p.m. they were already here," she said.

This had all the makings of a horrific disaster. Behind the auto repair lot is a lumberyard, and a mobile home park also sits close, which could have easily been destroyed.

"So, those were some of the things we had to think about and address as soon as we got here," said Captain Googens.

"There are of older trailers, more flammable and with the wind blowing, if any of them caught fire it would have just jumped from one to the next to the next to the next," said Vadnais.

Scott Bradley lives in the mobile home park.

"It's right next to to tall trees and if it had gone, we would have gone," he said.

R&R Auto also lost a valuable collection of vintage trucks and other classic vehicles, consumed by the fast moving flames before firefighters solidly beat the back and confined them to the yard.

Vallejo firefighters give a lot of credit to mutual aid system.

"From Benicia, American Canyon, and Fairfield Fire departments that helped us out tremendously," said the Vallejo fire captain.

Witnesses say, what made the difference was the skill and daring of the firefighters themselves.