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'Some Folks Were in Tears Watching It Crumble': Mysterious Fire Destroys Historic WWII Blimp Hangar The cause and origin of the fire is under investigation.

By Sam Silverman

Key Takeaways

  • Built in 1942, the wooden hangar was used to house blimps that patrolled the U.S. coastline during war times.
  • The structure was designated as National Landmark in 1975.
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A mysterious fire destroyed a beloved Tustin, Calif., landmark this week when the north hangar at Tustin's former Marine Corps Air Station, famous for housing blimps used in WWII, was burnt to the ground on Tuesday.

The Orange County Fire Authority arrived at the scene and discovered flames shooting through the roof of the wooden building around 1 a.m., Tuesday morning, per CBS. Responders struggled to extinguish the fire because the former Air Force base's water was shut off since it hadn't been in operation since 1999.

"We had to create a relay system, using over 1,000 feet of hose dropped on the ground to get water from hydrants on the street to our trucks on the other side of the building," Capt. Thanh Nguyen, OC Fire Authority told CBS.

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Despite the help of 70 firefighters and three helicopters typically used to combat wildfires, the fire raged on until it burnt out on its own, according to The New York Times. The fire was considered under control around 10 p.m. Tuesday evening.

The Tustin Police Department and major crime investigators have launched an investigation into the cause of the fire.

"Well they're working hand in hand with the Orange County Fire Authority's arson unit as well," said Tustin police Lieutenant Ryan Coe said, per CBS. "Obviously, this is a big structure. ... We need to try to figure out where did this thing start inside here and how did it start."

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Dozen of Tustin residents arrived at the scene to watch as the landmark collapsed. Several people posted photos and videos from the incident on social media.

The two hangars on the base were some of the largest wooden structures built in the 20th Century, according to The New York Times.

Originally built in 1942, the wooden hangars stood 17 stories high and were 1,000 feet long by 300 feet wide. They were used to house blimps that patrolled the U.S. coastline during war times, the Tustin Area Historical Society states and became designated as National Landmarks in 1975. The base had closed operations in 1999.

The hangars are also known for being featured in various films, including "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me," "Pearl Harbor," and 2009's "Star Trek."

Sam Silverman

Content Strategy Editor

Sam Silverman is a content strategy editor at Entrepreneur Media. She specializes in search engine optimization (SEO), and her work can be found in The US Sun, Nicki Swift, In Touch Weekly, Life & Style and Health. She writes for our news team with a focus on investigating scandals. Her coverage and expertise span from business news, entrepreneurship, technology, and true crime, to the latest in entertainment and TV news. Sam is a graduate of Lehigh University and currently resides in NYC. 

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