Costa Mesa fire investigators aren't ruling out arson as a possible cause of a giant Christmas tree fire that broke out Monday morning.
"It was kind of scary at the moment," witness Juan Giron said.
The tree, which stands nearly 100 feet tall, sent huge plumes of black smoke into the air.
"Everybody was running and moving their cars on the side," he said. "I was way back there trying not to get close to where the fire was."
It took firefighters about five minutes to put out the flames while crews spent the remainder of the day cleaning up debris.
The holiday tree in front of the Westin South Coast Plaza is part of an annual tree lighting ceremony of the community.
"It’s definitely a big part of the holiday season," Kaila McGreal said. "I saw a lot of kids come together to put on a show a day of the Christmas lighting."
South Coast Plaza officials say it took a full month to string it with 20,000 lights, but firefighters said it took minutes for it to burn down.
"I was amazed," Craig Wright, Newport Beach resident, said. "I guess it turned into a torch just immediately."
South Coast Plaza officials are working to get a new tree in place by the end of the week.