The largest wooden structures in the world
Commissioned in 1942 to accommodate the U.S. Navy's "Lighter Than Air" coastal patrol operations during WWII, these hangars were the largest wooden structures in the world at the time. Each hangar is 186' tall, 1,200' long, and 300' wide. Each of these 17 story tall hangars could house 6 blimps and many helicopters and took less than a year to build. During WWII, 17 blimp hangars were built across the country and all were built from wood due to all metal being used for military vehicles. The doors are constructed of steel with wood panels on the outside and operate with 10 horsepower motors. The base was decommissioned in 1999.
The future of these structures is uncertain as they no longer have and practical use and take up lots of land. The military base has been shrinking over the years to allow for housing developments but the area surrounding the two hangars is still undeveloped. Developers have been fighting to take over the land and demolish the hangars to build more houses/apartments but others are fighting to keep these structures standing to preserve their unique history here in Orange County. The military, city of Tustin, and others all have their hands in this so the outcome is unsure although the city of Tustin has made future plans for a large sports complex. The neighboring MCAS El Toro was slowly demolished and the plan was to build a large park in its place but as expected, most of it was developed into housing instead with a small portion being developed into a park. Likely, that will be the same outcome of this area eventually. However, with people trying to preserve the hangars, it would take something significantly damaging for developers to be able to buy the land and develop on it.
In November 2023, a fire broke out and fire crews initially fought the fire but soon decided to let it burn the structure down which took about a week. This seemed odd since there are working fire hydrants around the structure on the base and water dropping helicopters were on standby. It is also odd that there were no natural disasters that could have caused the fire and there was no power in the facility to cause any sort of short. There is also security that patrols these hangars 24/7 so it was not possible that any sort of homeless encampment started the fire. It was initially stated that it was bad to breathe the air in the area due to the large amounts of asbestos that was burning in the structure, however soon after, officials told everyone it was fine. It's likely that it was determined to be much cheaper to let the facility burn to the ground rather than paying to demolish the structure and that took priority over everyones health. Of course officials are not going to say that and it's likely that the cause of the fire won't be mentioned. The majority of residents in the area are blaming the developers for the fire so we'll see if houses end up being built on this land in the near future.