CARSON (CBSLA) — Crews Friday continued to battle an enormous industrial fire that broke out Thursday afternoon in a pallet yard in Carson and quickly spread to a distribution center.
The greater-alarm fire was reported at 2:12 p.m. at 16325 S. Avalon Blvd. At the fire's height, more than 200 city and county of Los Angeles firefighters were on the scene, battling the blaze.
It was still smoldering Friday, with firefighters on scene putting out hot spots.
The blaze sparked near the back of a commercial distribution center where there was a large amount of storage, along with semi-trucks and trailers.
"It started outside the building in that backlot where a lot of those big-rigs would pull into those unloading and loading bays," L.A. County Fire Department spokesperson Jonathan Matheny said.
Large stacks of cardboard packed densely together were seen burning from Sky 9, with several flaming sheets flying up and sparking fires elsewhere on the property. Gusty winds whipped up the flames and black smoke.
Flames also sparked dangerously close to electrical lines and a transformer at an adjacent property. Several truck-trailers were destroyed by the fire.
Several businesses near the fire were evacuated, according to the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.
"Pretty much they told us to get out of the building, because the building started to catch on fire, and we went inside the office," Victor Chaires, who works at a nearby transportation company, told CBSLA Thursday.
Firefighters were able to prevent significant damage to 11 surrounding buildings that were threatened by the intense flames, which jumped from roof to roof. Officials credited employees at some of those buildings who rolled down warehouse doors to keep the flames from getting inside.
"Wisely, one of the employees got in there and pulled down several of those roll-up doors, thereby preventing the fire from getting inside of that structure," LACFD spokesperson Sean Ferguson said.
"Had he not done that we would have been looking at a much bigger firefight inside the building itself," Ferguson added.
Osby said wind was a major factor in the spread of the flames.
"As you can tell by the fire that's almost a city block, that has impacted three to five commercial structures, that we had a tunnel of wind going behind the buildings, and between the buildings, with a lot of outside storage," Osby said. "It's paper, supplies, chemicals, alcohol wipes."
Four firefighters were injured battling the blaze. Two of them were hospitalized, but are expected to be OK.
"I think our firefighters did an outstanding job as far as attacking the fire and then keeping the fire from significantly impacting the commercial structures," Osby added.
There is no word on a cause. Matheny said the business where the fire appeared to start is a distribution center which stores large amount of combustible material. Investigators were looking into whether barrels of hand sanitizer caught fire, igniting the flames.
"Knowing that there was containers of these things, and they started to pop, luckily the explosions were somewhat contained in those containers, but it still got out of hand," Sam Samayon, an employee of a neighboring business, told CBSLA Thursday.
The surrounding businesses remained closed Friday due to the scale of the burn area. Crews have to go section by section and ensure all the flames are out before allowing anyone in, including fire investigators.
"Because of the large footprint of this fire, we've got a lot of material to just pull apart, looking for hot spots, smoldering areas," Matheny said.
Meanwhile, traffic remained heavily impacted at Alondra and Avalon boulevards. Drivers were advised to avoid the area, the sheriff's department said.
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