Talbert Park Fire

Costa Mesa Firefighter Mike Ruhl prepares to cut away brush while battling a 3-acre brush fire at Talbert Regional Park in Costa Mesa on Friday, May 9. (Scott Smeltzer - Daily Pilot) (SCOTT SMELTZER / Daily Pilot / May 10, 2014)

Crews battled a brush fire Friday in the southern section of Talbert Regional Park, where flames burned close enough to homes that backyard plants and debris ignited, fire officials said.

At least 90 firefighters descended upon the 180-acre county park in Costa Mesa, where the blaze broke out half a mile south of Victoria Street and sent a plume of smoke and ash over the area.

It took more than two hours to control the fire, which started around 11:30 a.m. and burned 3 to 5 acres of vegetation, according to the Costa Mesa Police Department.

The fire's cause is unknown, but investigators are aggressively following leads because of nearby arsons in Talbert and Fairview parks earlier this year, according to fire officials.

Fire departments in Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Fountain Valley, Anaheim, Garden Grove and Orange sent units to the park.

An Orange County Fire Authority helicopter aided by pulling water out of Victoria Pond to drop from above.

At times, crews took defensive positions to keep flying embers from igniting structures, said OCFA Capt. Shane Sherwood.

But only one building sustained about $1,500 of damage to its roof, Costa Mesa fire Chief Dan Stefano said. No injuries were reported.

Crews were expected to remain at the park through Friday evening, mopping up and keeping an eye on hot spots.

Authorities ordered no evacuations, Sherwood said, but some affected residents reportedly grabbed belongings and left their homes anyway.

Newport Beach resident Debbie Land said her neighbors on the northern part of Starfish Court, a section of Newport adjacent to Talbert, decided to find a safer place to wait out the situation.

Land said she lives farther south on Starfish, where "people on my end [were] getting pets in their cars and getting their stuff" in case they had to evacuate.

After seeing the smoke, Costa Mesa resident Rafael Davila headed down Victoria and onto the Santa Ana River trail, where dozens of onlookers stood on the Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach sides of the riverbed. Using his iPhone, Davila took a selfie video of the OCFA helicopter filling up water at Victoria Pond before it headed out to douse the fire.

Costa Mesa police closed the eastbound lanes of Victoria Street, starting at Brookhurst Street in Huntington Beach, during the fire. Canyon Drive and Valley Road, south of Victoria Street in Costa Mesa, were also shut down.

Newport Beach police officers closed off the end of West 19th Street for a time.

The fire produced enough smoke and ash that Friday's Estancia High School baseball game against Saddleback High School in Santa Ana was postponed due to air quality, according to Coach Nate Goellrich.

In January, four fires broke out in the northern end of Talbert Park and Fairview Park within the span of two days. Investigators concluded the incidents were "definitely arson." No suspects have been identified.

Anyone with information about Friday's fire is asked to call the Costa Mesa Fire Department at (714) 754-5106.

— Staff Writer Anthony Clark Carpio also contributed to this report.

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