Huntington Beach firefighters battle 2 separate structure fires at condo complex, historic site
Huntington Beach firefighters were kept busy Friday morning, as one blaze damaged a building on a historical property off Warner Avenue and a four-alarm fire displaced five residents at a gated condo complex on the city’s south side.
Jennifer Carey, the city’s public affairs manager, said a call came in shortly after 10:45 p.m. Thursday at Seabridge Village, a gated residential complex on the 20100 block of Sealpoint Lane, where a fire that started in the garage of a three-story unit had extended to other residences.
More than 60 firefighters — including some from Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Fountain Valley, Orange, Anaheim and the Orange County Fire Authority — responded to the four-alarm fire inside the complex, according to Carey. It wasn’t until about 2 a.m. that the last flames were doused.
No injuries were sustained but three separate units were damaged during the incident, and at least five adult residents were displaced after their homes were declared uninhabitable, Carey said. Red Cross was called to the scene to assist the victims.
A second report of a fire was logged by HBPD shortly before 9 a.m. Friday at the intersection of Warner Avenue and Nichols Lane, on a property that has been identified by local preservationists as a place of historic significance.
The 4.4-acre parcel contains several buildings with ties to the city’s early Japanese American history, including the former Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church — founded as a mission in 1904 — a barn and three residences that date as far back as 1912, when Japanese native Charles Mitsuji Furuta (1888-1953) built a home for his family, according to a historical report filed with the city in 2002.
Members of the Furuta family in 2004 sold the property and the six structures on it to Rainbow Environmental Services, now Republic Services, which at one point was interested in selling to a self-storage company.
Although the city created the Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force in 2012 to collect funds for the relocation or restoration of the site, the group was disbanded by the Huntington Beach City Council five years later without having attained its goal.
Carey said Friday firefighters responding to the incident noticed a fire had broken out in an ancillary building adjacent to the main church building. They were able to put out the blaze in about 20 minutes, preventing flames from reaching the other structures, including the church.
Separate investigations into what caused the two structure fires are currently underway.
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