On April 8, 2005 around 0750 hours I had just finished my workout at the 24 hour fitness gym in the strip mall on Los Alisos in Mission Viejo, California.
I smelled an odor of smoke, but could not see any. I decided to drive around the back of the mall to investigate. As I was driving around the rear of the mall I saw light wispy smoke coming from the roof of the building. Around back there was no smell of smoke. A man with a cell phone was walking around and I asked him to call 911. I walked around the building and saw light smoke in the sports bar on the second floor.
I found the roof scuttle and accessed the roof. On the roof I saw wispy smoke coming from one of the HVAC units and the adjoining vent. I cut the power to the HVAC unit.
Upon arrival of the first unit, Orange County Fire Authority Engine 19, I approached the Captain and told him what I had found. He gave me one of his firefighters so I could show him. Upon accessing the roof again a third vent was showing wispy smoke.
About 90 minutes later I noticed several news helicopters hovering. I went back to the scene. Firefighters found a wall fire on the first floor. That fire eventually found air and exploded on them about 30 minutes after I had left the scene.
The crews went into defensive mode and the incident eventually went to 5 alarms.
The building was not sprinklered.