Brief Fire on Oil Pier Touched Off by Torch

A cutting torch is being blamed for sparking a fire on an abandoned oil pier that sent thick black smoke into the sky north of Ventura Wednesday afternoon.

Ventura County Fire Department spokeswoman Sandi Wells said a salvage worker using a torch ignited residual oil in the bottom of a metal tank about 1 p.m.

The Fire Department dispatched three engines, a truck and battalion chief but called them back because the blaze was out almost immediately, Wells said. No one was injured.

The pier is one of two being disassembled by Mobil Oil because they are no longer used, over the protests of surfers who say they create favorable waves.