Two Newport Beach fires that burn industrial lot, middle school building deemed ‘suspicious’

Firefighters from several agencies continue to battle a a stubborn fire in a storage facility at 864 Production Place in Newport Beach
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Two “suspicious” fires broke out hours apart in Newport Beach early Friday, triggering explosions that shook neighbors awake and knocked out power for nearby residents.

The first blaze was reported about 2:30 a.m. in the rear of an industrial business in the 800 block of Production Place after an explosion, said Newport Beach Fire Battalion Chief Jeff Boyles.

The area is known for homeless encampments and one person suffered third-degree burns in the fire, he said.


“By nature of the explosion and fire and heat, it makes it suspicious by nature,” Boyles said.

The fire knocked out power to more than 50 Southern California Edison customers, the company’s website showed.

Just two hours later and two miles away, a fire broke out inside a small office next to the girl’s locker room at Ensign Intermediate School.

There appeared to be signs of a forced entry and damage to the electrical systems was suspicious, Boyles said.

“A girl’s locker room doesn’t just burn down for any reason,” Boyles said.

Though the fires were both deemed suspicious, they likely started in noticeably different ways.

“It’s not like someone going around with a Molotov cocktail,” Boyles said.

Several Orange County fire departments helped fight both blazes as Newport Beach’s crews were spread thin due to the larger industrial fire, Boyles said.


The investigation into both fires is ongoing.

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