A large fire is burning in the historic north hangar at Marine Corps Air Station Tustin

TUSTIN, Calif. (KABC) — A massive fire tore through a historic hangar at a former Orange County airfield Tuesday morning, prompting a massive firefighter response.

The three-alarm fire was reported around 1 a.m. at a car dealership in north Tustin, near Valencia Avenue and Armstrong Road, according to the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA).

The fire was so big, firefighters used a helicopter to try to put out the flames that burned the building that is 17 stories high. The workers also attacked the floor.

“It’s sad. We’re losing history,” said Dwight Hanson, a Marine who was stationed on the base in the ’80s.

Firefighters said one of the problems they are facing is the lack of water in the area. Workers were using a long hose to pump water from ditches to nearby streets.

OCFA captain Thanh Nguyen could not say whether there was anything inside the hangar.

Hours after the fire started, officials said the crew backed off from the battle because of the “danger of falling.” OCFA said they will let the building fall safely before crews go in to put out any remaining flames.

The fire woke up nearby residents, some came out of their homes to see the fire.

“I woke up and heard all these helicopters flying and looked outside and saw smoke and flames,” said Steve Kinney. “These things have been around for a long time and it’s hard to believe that maybe this one will go away.”

“Losing these, we will never see anything like this again.”

The hangar is one of the largest wooden structures ever built, and is one of two air hangars built in 1942 at the former Marine Corps Air Station Tustin. The landmark has been featured in several shows and movies, including “Pearl Harbor,” “Star Trek” and “Austin Powers.”

For many residents who live in this area, these hangars have been a part of the area for as long as they have been alive.

“It’s huge. You know, you go through something every day, you expect to see it there, especially something as prominent as this,” Hanson said.

It is owned by Orange County, but with talk of potential future development in the area, its future is uncertain.

Meanwhile, the cause of the fire is under investigation.