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Investigators Combing Through Damage After 3-Alarm Fremont Machine Shop Fire

FREMONT (CBS SF) - The Fremont Fire Department sent a follow-up team to the C&H Enterprises machine shop Friday to probe the cause of the three-alarm blaze that destroyed the interior of the business on Thursday, a deputy fire chief said.

Fire investigators who arrived at the shop at 801 Boggs Ave. Friday morning first had to determine whether the heavily-damaged industrial building was safe enough to enter, said Deputy Fire Chief Greg Dillingham.

The roof of the structure, a "tilt-up" building with concrete walls and a metal and plywood ceiling, caved in during the blaze, which went to three alarms and involved 44 Fremont firefighters, Dillingham said.

After receiving the call at about 1:45 p.m., the building was so involved in flames that the fire had to be fought outside with two aerial master streams, large water hoses on top of ladders that each shot 500 gallons of water per minute at the flames, Dillingham said.

Firefighters believe that the fire may have started toward the center of the building around a machine inside, but at this point the building's interior "is a total loss," Dillingham said.

One firefighter was treated at a hospital for back strain and was later released, Dillingham said.

Firefighters from Alameda County and Hayward city fire departments covered Fremont's fire stations while crews fought the blaze, Dillingham said.

C&H Enterprises is apparently seeking a temporary space to resume production, Dillingham said.

The company operates as a custom fabrication machine shop, making custom machine parts for high-tech and other industries, according to the company's website.

The building covers 15,712 square feet and includes grinding, milling and sawing machines and welding equipment used to manufacture custom parts.

A spokesman for C&H Enterprises could not be reached this morning.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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