Firefighters are searching for answers after a massive blaze sent flames and at least one explosion ripping through an industrial complex in the city of Orange early Wednesday morning.
There was what appeared to be at least one explosion when the fire burned through the factory yard shortly after midnight. Foamex employees were at the scene when the fire broke out.
There were no injuries in the fire, which started around 12:30 p.m. The fire was primarily contained to the factory building’s outdoor storage yard, according to the Orange County Fire Authority.
Even so, impressive smoke and flames could be seen by drivers on nearby Highway 57 as the fire raged outside the Foamex International factory building.
The company makes polyurethane and advanced polymer foam products, and people nearby could see and smell the huge pieces of foam that were burning.
According to a Metro Net Fire spokesperson, employees were loading foam onto a conveyor belt outside the main building when they noticed smoke. Employees tried to remove the foam from the belt, but by then it had caught fire. The flames quickly spread.
The foam was described to NBC4 as being the size of railroad boxcars – and if so, the pieces of foam could be as big or even bigger than 50 feet long.
Crews of 70 to 90 firefighters were able to protect the main building, and by 2:35 a.m. they had the bulk of the blaze under control, according to Fire Captain Ryan O’Connor of the OC Fire Department.
A hazardous materials team was also on the scene, he said, and the pH of the groundwater was tested for possible chemical contamination. The test came back neutral, and the team and the City of Orange environmental specialist determined there was no need to clean up the environment or hazardous materials.
By 5:30 a.m., firefighters were on the scene, with only minor damage to the main building and the loss of “a few ancillary buildings,” O’Connor said.
Now it’s up to the firefighters to finish assessing the damage and figure out what caused the fire in the first place.