Gusting Winds Fuel Ontario Mulch Fire

Santa Ana winds turned an Ontario mulch fire into a battle Saturday night as firefighters struggled to contain the blaze.

Winds gusting up to 30 mph fueled the fire and carried the smoke plume for miles. NBC4 viewers reported seeing and smelling the smoke as far as 20 miles away in Brea.

The green waste mulching facility where the fire started lost a small hay barn and two small sheds, Ontario Police Department officials said.

Flames broke out about 9:15 p.m. in the area of Chino and Grove avenues, an agricultural side of the city.

It was still burning at 7 a.m. Sunday, though winds had died down and firefighters had contained the fire, according to Ontario Fire Department deputy chief Mike Pelletier.

“You couldn’t see last night. It was so bad, the fire,” said neighbor Lubertha Vanderlaan.

No injuries were reported and no evacuations were ordered, the Ontario Police Department said.

Police said a building that houses farm equipment was threatened.

Officers closed Chino and Grove avenues to traffic.

"Maybe now something will be done about it because we knew it was coming. It's not if, it's when," Vanderlaan said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation. However, police said the type of mulch that caught fire can spontaneously heat up and catch fire due to strong winds.

When the blaze is under control, heavy hauling equipment will be used to spread out the mulch fire, Pelletier said. But he expected to be on scene through the day.

Melissa Etezadi contributed to this report.

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