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Published on May 27, 2024
Containment Progresses in 11-Day Otay Mesa Energy Storage Facility Fire, Evacuations Lifted, Road Closures in EffectSource: CAL FIRE San Diego

Fire crews have been battling an intense blaze at a Lithium Ion Batteries energy storage facility in Otay Mesa for the past 11 days, finally seeing improvement in containment efforts. The fire, which ignited 11 days ago, has necessitated a robust response from firefighters. Crews have been dispatched since the afternoon of May 15 to the site, located at 641 Camino De La Fuente, according to a statement obtained by CBS8. The firefighting team comprises 15 personnel, including one engine and a dozen unspecified resources.

As the situation has stabilized, lifts on evacuation orders have been enacted. "The evacuation order at Grid 0436 has been downgraded to a warning due to improved atmospheric conditions, and the evacuation warning for Grid 0437 has been removed," officials from Cal Fire reported via CBS8. In addition, a road closure that affected Camino De La Fuente at Paseo De La Fuente is also in effect, according to CAL FIRE/San Diego County Fire statement. Despite the fact that there have been no instances of thermal runaway for over two days, officials warn that the risk persists.

During the height of the firefight, an estimated 50 firefighters and county and city hazardous materials teams were involved in the effort. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the tactics of pumping extensive amounts of water into the battery facility's sprinkler system have proven successful. Firefighters in protective gear were able to open the facility's doors by Thursday afternoon, ending the fire's immediate threat. To further ensure safety, firefighters utilized drones and robots to monitor air quality and examine the fire's behavior, according to remarks by Cal Fire spokesperson Capt. Brent Pascua, who told Hoodline, "This is a very slow process."

The incident arrives as California continues its march toward sustainable energy solutions. LS Power's Gateway storage facility, now impacted by the fire, has played a key role in the state's eco-friendly ambitions. First acclaimed as the world's largest battery storage project at its opening in 2020, the facility's fate underscores a growing debate over the safety of such energy solutions. An evacuation warning was issued for nearby businesses, and a shelter-in-place order was issued for Donovan State Prison due to the potential for toxic fumes. However, no injuries or structural damage has been reported, and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.