Otay Mesa battery storage fire frightens Morro Bay residents

May 31, 2024


After more than two weeks, firefighters are still on scene at a battery storage facility fire in Otay Mesa in Southern California.

On May 15, the Otay Mesa facility erupted in flames. Because of the presence of lithium-ion batteries, firefighters were unsure how to put the fire out and how to keep it out.

“You have to put water on it to keep the fire confined, but that water damages the batteries also allowing them to arc starting another fire,” said Cal Fire Capt. Brent Pascua. “We’re just trying to keep the public safe and keep the fire contained to the building.”

The fire is expected to consumed 15 to 20 million gallons of water. Within three hours of the fire’s ignition, there were lethal amounts of Hydrogen Cyanide in the air, according to Cal Fire.

Issues with extinguishing the fire and the toxic gases released have given Morro Bay residents more reasons they do not want a battery storage facility in their city.

“The problem in Morro Bay is the location of the proposes battery storage facility,” said Morro Bay resident Rachel Wilson. “It is proposed to be in the heart of a tourist area and approximately .31 miles from our high school. It is located between the tourist area and our iconic rock. If there were an incident at the facility, this community could not quickly evacuate. Those near the rock would have to drive towards the fire and the smoke could close down Highway 1, which is our only evacuation route.”

Citizens for Estero Bay Preservation, a group of Morro Bay residents focused on preserving the city’s coastline for the community and tourists, collected the required signatures to put a measure on the ballot to block the construction of a battery storage facility near the old power plant.

Artist rendering of proposed Morro Bay battery storage facility

Vistra, a Texas-based energy company, has plans to replace the Morro Bay power plant with a battery energy storage facility.

The proponents for yes on Measure A-24, Citizens for Estero Bay Preservation, are hosting a kickoff celebration on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Morro Bay Community Center at 1001 Kennedy Way.  While enjoying a complimentary lunch and music by Jill Knight, attendees can learn more about battery storage facilities and the group’s goal of protecting the quality of life in Morro Bay.


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Read this article with a grain of salt. I’d say, the author may be a tad over-excited. All fires give off toxic gas-example: Carbon Monoxide is a toxic gas. Just as deadly as Hydrogen Cyanide is. Lithium fires are considered Class D fires. Sand can be also used as a smoldering agent to control and extinguish the fire. The plant would be near a large source of sand, along with seawater could be used in an emergency. We have had battery storage facilities for a long time, it’s not that big of a deal. Costco has one right next to the store, no one panics over that one. Unless someone has a better idea what to do with the proposed property in question, I’d say battery storage facility doesn’t sound all that bad. Especially if we plan on buying into a EVs as our future. Electric cars are dead weight without power storage options.