Seal Beach pier on fire in California as black smoke filled the sky and flames burned bright from inside the closed Ruby’s Diner. The fire is finally extinguished, causing only a minor injury to a firefighter.
The fire started around 7:35 a.m. inside the restaurant, and firefighters were pumping water through standpipes at the end of the pier to try to contain the fire, but it spread below the pier, Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi said.
“The fire is intensifying,” Concialdi said just before 8 a.m. “The restaurant was vacant.” The fire was knocked down at 9:05 a.m., Concialdi said.
Four fire boats from Long Beach Fire Department, three from Los Angeles County and one from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department responded to assist the battle from the ocean when the Seal Beach pier was on fire.
About 70 firefighters from OCFA, Long Beach, Huntington Beach and Los Angeles County fire departments also responded. It’s unclear what started the fire.
A firefighter was injured while battling the blaze and was receiving medical care at 8:30 a.m. Ruby’s Diner closed in January 2013, and the building has been vacant since.
Michael Pless Jr., one of the owners of M&M Surfing School based in Seal Beach, said he was surfing when he smelled smoke before seeing flames under the pier. “Do I smell something cooking?” he said he thought when he smelled the fire.
Shortly after, Pless Jr. said he saw six firefighters hanging off a Seal Beach Police Department patrol car speeding toward the fire.
David Gillispie, 26, was surfing with Pless Jr. and was about 200 feet away from the pier when the Seal Beach pier was on fire. “There were chunks of wood falling into the water,” Gillispie said.
Fire officials were walking through the charred remains of the building after the flames were extinguished. It was unclear how long it would take to determine a cause.
Robert Christiansen, 61 of Anaheim, was sitting on his beach chair facing the ocean when he spotted the smoke. “I thought ‘Maybe they’re doing some sort of control clean-up fire’ I hope it’s not what I think it is,” he said.
But then he saw the smoke building up, and emergency crews arriving. Firefighters told the fishermen and pedestrians on the pier to vacate as the smoke continued to build.
“It’s pretty serious; hopefully they’ll get it under control,” Christiansen said. Rachel Kuryan, who lives nearby, walked out to see the fire with her dog and fiancee.
She said some of her fondest childhood memories involve going to the Seal Beach Pier with her family. “(Ruby’s) is where my mom would come for her birthday,” Kuryan said. “She doesn’t even like hamburgers.”
Kurgan hopes the Seal Beach pier that was on fire, which is the second longest wooden pier in California, will be repaired. “I would like to see it restored,” she said.