Auto repair

Vallejo auto repair yard fire could have been much worse, investigators say

On Friday, customers and insurance agencies tallied 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 around.

It all started suddenly and without warning late Thursday afternoon.

Laundromat manager Carol Vadnias, who works next door to the repair shop, has seen it all.

“Around 5:15 p.m. I heard a loud explosion. At first I thought it was just a flashback. 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 big fire. So it was long before us even before we were sent on roll call,” he said.

Vadnais said firefighters quickly arrived on the scene.

“They got to us, plus, within minutes, at 5:20 p.m. they were already there,” she said.

It had all the ingredients for a horrible disaster. Behind the auto repair lot is a lumber yard and there is also a mobile home park nearby which could have easily been destroyed.

“So those are some of the things we had to think about and sort out as soon as we got here,” captain Googens said.

“There are older trailers, more flammable and with the wind blowing, if one caught fire it would have just jumped from one to the other to the other to the other”, Vadnais said.

Scott Bradley lives in the mobile home park.

“It’s right next to some big trees and if it had gone we would have gone there,” 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 beat them soundly in the back and confined them to the yard.

The Vallejo firefighters place great importance on the mutual aid system.

“From the fire departments of Benicia, American Canyon and Fairfield who helped us enormously,” said the Vallejo fire captain.

According to witnesses, what made the difference was the skill and daring of the firefighters themselves.