MB2 Raceway owners share close encounter with Saddleridge inferno

NHRA driver Trevor Larkin leads the pack in a race Sunday evening to raise money for Soroptimist International at MB2 Raceway in Sylmar. Cory Rubin/The Signal
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Hot wheels on the tracks at MB2 Raceway in Sylmar are a common occurrence but flaming hot exit doors separating a fast-moving blaze from customers and employees is not, owners of the business said Friday.

“It was pretty insane,” Chris Brooks, Saugus resident and co-owner of the go-kart racing facility, said about the Saddleridge Fire. “This wasn’t the first time we experienced a fire but this was an absolute inferno. It was really scary.” 

The blaze began near Interstate 210 on Thursday in the Sylmar area, with strong winds pushing the fire west through the communities of Granada Hills and Porter Ranch and growing rapidly into the thousands of acres by early Friday morning. MB2 and several other commercial buildings on Balboa Boulevard in Sylmar were among those in the raging wildfire’s path. 

Brooks and his wife Martine, as well as their business partner Will Miller, rushed to MB2 about 9 p.m. Thursday to help safely evacuate the six workers and about 30 customers that night after receiving calls from employees on duty about the fast-approaching fire. 

As staff finished evacuations and firefighters worked on extinguishing adjacent flames, including those that engulfed Frito-Lay trucks at a distribution plant next to MB2, the Brookses and Miller headed toward the wildfire that raced down the hills that hugged their area and to the businesses. 

“We were going to lock everything up and turn off all lights and we went to the back of the building where the fire was coming from to make sure the coast was clear,” said Chris. “By the time we walked from the front to the back, we see an inferno. There were embers coming through the cracks of the roll-up doors. One of our emergency doors in the back eventually caught fire from the inside. We couldn’t figure out what was going on.” 

It all happened so fast, said Martine. From what appeared to be rainfall of embers, to hearing nearby explosions, “it was one of the craziest experiences,” she said. 

Despite the scare, they remained on the scene to try and save their business. Eventually, the owners managed to clamp all back doors shut and use an extinguisher to put out the door that caught fire. The facility, which is mostly concrete, suffered minor damage and no injuries were reported. 

Chris suggested, however, “Don’t do what we did. We were in the spur of the moment and it happened so fast. Our response is not for everyone.” 

The owners said they hoped to reopen MB2 for business by Saturday if possible. 

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