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The Orange County Fire Authority celebrated the grand opening of its 72nd fire station Thursday

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By Allison Jarrell

The 1,200 residents of Ranch Mission Viejo’s Sendero community, located in the unincorporated area of south Orange County just south of Ladera Ranch, received their own 10,000-square-foot fire station this month, complete with four firefighters—including two paramedics—a brush fire engine and a paramedic fire engine.

On Thursday, July 16, the Orange County Fire Authority, Rancho Mission Viejo and the county of Orange celebrated the grand opening of Fire Station 56—OCFA’s 72nd fire station, which will serve the communities of Sendero, Rancho Mission Viejo, Ladera Ranch and San Juan Capistrano, in addition to taking all of the calls out on Ortega Highway to the Orange/Riverside county border.

Officials said new fire stations are generally built after a community’s first 1,000 to 1,500 homes, depending on the proximity of the surrounding fire stations and services.

Located at 56 Sendero Way, near the corner of Sendero Way and Antonio Parkway, the station cost about $5 million to construct and is equipped with eight dorm rooms to accommodate two fire companies. Station 56 sits on a one-acre site that was donated to OCFA by the Rancho Mission Viejo Company, and was designed and built by Erickson Hall Construction and WLC Architects.

Noting the building’s Spanish Progressive style, OCFA Fire Chief Jeff Bowman called the station “truly one of the most beautiful facilities” he’s ever seen.

“I’ve seen…a lot of fire stations built over the years, and it’s really fun to watch how they transition from just a basic facility to one that is not only beautiful, but the intent obviously is to blend in with the community that it serves,” Bowman said.

Those in attendance at the Thursday morning ribbon cutting included OCFA Division 3 Chief John Abel, OCFA Board Chair Al Murray, Victor Cao representing 5th District Supervisor Lisa Bartlett and Rancho Mission Viejo Chief Operating Officer Don Vodra.

Vodra addressed the crowd with news of a new retail center, Sendero Marketplace, coming this fall at the corner of Ortega Highway and Antonio Parkway. He also noted the opening of Rancho Mission Viejo’s next community, Esencia, which will be home to about 3,000 residents and is set to open in the next 60 days.

“We also watch with great anticipation the completion of La Pata, which will connect to Antonio Parkway here and will really link us more closely to San Clemente,” Vodra said.

OCFA’s Station 56 began running emergency calls on Friday, July 10, including responding to a head-on collision at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday evening about two miles east of Antonio Parkway. The severe crash involved two 24-year-old male trauma patients who were transported to the hospital. The stretch of Ortega Highway surrounding the accident was closed temporarily.

“One of the cars had caught fire, and if this fire station wasn’t there, by the time the fire station in San Juan or Ladera Ranch arrived on scene, that fire could have easily extended into the brush,” OCFA Capt. Steve Concialdi said. “We could have had a pretty significant fire, like we had the day before off of Santiago Canyon Road and the 241.”

Bowman said the residents served by the new Sendero station will be receiving services on par with the rest of OCFA’s south Orange County fire stations.

“Those of you who live here, you have the best level of service available,” Bowman said. “I’m personally very grateful, and certainly proud.”

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