ORANGE (CBSLA) – There was a massive four-alarm fire and explosion at a commercial foam manufacturing business in the city of Orange in the early morning hours Wednesday.
The blaze was reported at Foamex International, located in the 2000 block of Batavia Street, at 12:30 a.m.
Orange Fire Department crews arrived to find heavy flames and smoke coming from a one-story commercial building. The business manufactures large foam pieces that are used to make mattresses. Hundreds of stacked foam pieces were ablaze in the storage yard.
"They're rectangular, bigger than railroad cars, and they're all stacked up, hundreds of them, and that's what was burning," Orange Fire Capt. Ryan O'Connor said.
Employees were loading the foam onto a conveyor belt at the time the fire occurred, O'Connor said.
Then, as crews were battling the fire, a large explosion occurred.
"My reaction was, lets back up, lets get out of here, because it was kind of intimidating...The smoke was at least 200 feet up, the flames were reaching high too, it was intense," said witness Matthew Wilds, who caught footage of the explosion on his cell phone.
Several nearby agencies were called in to assist, including Anaheim Fire & Rescue, the Orange County Fire Authority and the Fullerton Fire Department. The fire was so large that firefighters were forced to take a defensive position. Firefighters had to use water towers and large hose lines to attack the flames.
At least one storage area and two vehicles were destroyed in the blaze, O'Connor said. No surrounding businesses were damaged.
Rishi Saran, who runs a neighboring business, said one of his employees called him in a panic.
"He said that the flames were climbing over the wall of our yard area, and that he was lucky to escape from our parking lot where the flames had entered," Saran said.
O'Connor said overnight winds pushed the intense flames, adding to their fight. It took nearly three-dozen firefighters approximately 2 ½ hours to extinguish the blaze. However, crews remained on scene for hours dousing flaring hot spots.
Foamex operates 24 hours a day, and there were about 15 employees working at the time of the fire. None of them were hurt.
The cause of the blaze is under investigation. Surrounding roads were temporarily closed, but have since reopened.
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