Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

Public Safety

Blaze Guts Shuttered Meat Market Building In Escondido

A structure fire burning off Interstate 15 in Escondido, June 30, 2016.
A structure fire burning off Interstate 15 in Escondido, June 30, 2016.

A raging fire gutted an abandoned commercial building near the Interstate 15/state Route 78 interchange Thursday, sending thick smoke over the North County sky for hours, prompting closures of nearby streets and suspending light-rail service in the area.

The blaze in the 500 block of North Hale Avenue in Escondido erupted for unknown reasons shortly before 9 a.m., authorities reported.

Firefighters arrived to find flames spreading throughout the structure — the former site of a slaughterhouse and meat market that closed several years ago — and burning through the roof, said Jeff Murdock, a spokesman for the Escondido Fire Department.


An incident commander decided that the extent and nature of the fire made entering the building too dangerous, so the personnel fought it from the outside only, according to Murdock.

Though two transients were feared to be inside the burning structure, police eventually concluded that the pair had gotten out safely, and no injuries were reported.

The blaze continued to burn into the afternoon, despite being drenched by thousands of gallons of water sprayed from hoses atop tall ladders, Murdock said.

Crews had the fire under control by 1:30 p.m., though stubborn smoldering hot spots remained, he said.

Nearby roadways were blocked off due to the fire, and Sprinter train service was halted between the Escondido Transit Center on West Valley Parkway and the Nordahl Road Station into the mid-afternoon. Power in the immediate area also was deactivated for the safety of emergency personnel.


By 3 p.m., all streets in the area were open again, with the exception of a stretch of Hale Avenue, and electrical service had been restored, Murdock said.

Nearly 100 firefighters from agencies across the North County and San Diego battled the blaze. Some of the personnel were expected to remain at the scene overnight, making sure there was no possibility of flare-ups.

It was unclear when fire investigators might be able to get inside the ravaged structure to search for the origin of the blaze and determine the cause, the spokesman said.

KPBS has created a public safety coverage policy to guide decisions on what stories we prioritize, as well as whose narratives we need to include to tell complete stories that best serve our audiences. This policy was shaped through months of training with the Poynter Institute and feedback from the community. You can read the full policy here.