Blow Torch Blamed for Fairfield Fire

Stacks and stacks of plastic crates provided plenty of fuel for the fire.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A large fire burned Tuesday afternoon at a plastics manufacturer in Fairfield near Travis Air Force Base. A five acre parcel filled with stack of empty plastic crates burned for hours Tuesday afternoon. (Published Tuesday, Jul 26, 2011)

    It looks like workers doing repair work at a plastic plant in Fairfield sparks Tuesday's six-alarm fire.

    Company employees told fire officials that the work, which included some kind of blow torch, was being done in the area where the fire started.

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    The fire broke out about 1 p.m. in an outdoor storage area of the Macro Plastics Inc. plant, which is near Travis Air Force Base.

    Helicopter pilots headed to the scene in the first hour the fire was burning said flames reached 100 feet in the air.

    The fire also spewed thick black smoke into the air that could be seen 45 miles away.

    The 45 employees who work at the plant were evacuated safely and crews were able to keep to flames to the crates. It did not spread to any structures.

    Reporters on the scene said they could feel the heat from the fire from 100 yards away when the flames were at their peak.

    The company's website said the containers are made from injection-molded polyethylene and polypropylene. The company introduced the products in the 1980s as a replacement for wooden
     crates used by grape and stone-fruit farmers.

    Fire crews on the scene were in a "surround and drowned" mode, meaning they poured as much water on the fire as they could. Crews said they were in a defensive stance from the get go having no chance to knock the fire down, and only the hope of keeping it contained to the plastic bins and nearby grass and away from any surrounding buildings.

    Damage estimates were pending late Tuesday, but the company said thousands of crates burned.

    As many as 60 firefighters from Fairfield and four nearby
     departments used 21 vehicles to pour water on the blaze, Fairfield city spokeswoman Gale Spears told AP.