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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Redding: All Hands, Mutual Alarm Structure Fire

 Calif. fire uses every firefighter and apparatus available

Firefighters launched a defensive attack on the 105-year-old building due to a high probability of collapse

REDDING, Calif. — A fire that broke out late Wednesday gutted the Canteca Foods Inc. building at Sacramento and Oregon streets in downtown Redding, caving in the north half of the roof and damaging most of the warehouse.
The fire taxed the Redding Fire Department to its limit, pulling in off-duty and county firefighters to cover the city's seven staffed fire stations as local crews battled the blaze that broke out just before midnight.
"Every piece of apparatus in the city fire department was called," said Battalion Chief Steve Reilly of the Redding Fire Department.
Reilly said firefighters spent about four hours battling the blaze before getting it under control.
"We were challenged with what we're guessing is a 100-year-old building," Reilly said.
Firefighters had to attack the blaze from outside the building because it was too dangerous to send crews inside, Reilly said. The brick building is insulated with redwood sawdust, much of which lay burned outside the building Thursday morning.
"The potential for collapse of the wall was high," he said.
The building has power lines on three sides, Reilly said, though firefighters were able to squeeze a ladder truck onto Oregon Street to attack the flames. None of those lines were damaged as Redding Electric Utility workers managed to quickly kill power to the warehouse.
At one point flames shot out of windows, a door and cracks in the west side of the building, Reilly said. Firefighters held the blaze to the northern third of building, though the remainder was damaged by heavy black smoke, he said.
"Every orifice in this building was pushing black, black smoke out," Reilly said. "Albeit very smoky, we were able to remove three delivery trucks, a forklift and some processing equipment." John Hardin was working in his hobby shop in the north end of the building when the fire broke out but managed to escape without injury, he said. Two of his motorcycles were inside and firefighters managed to save one, he said.
Firefighters searched the southern twothirds of the building and didn't find anyone else inside, Reilly said.
Canteca owner Stephen Will, who also coaches baseball at Shasta High School, said he's already found another warehouse for the business.
"I'm very lucky and have a lot of great friends," he said, adding many of his former baseball players have offered help.
Canteca makes and distributes salsa, tortillas and tortilla chips. Will said the business started 31 years ago and now reaches as far south as Modesto and into Nevada and Oregon.
"I'll work night and day to get through it so we don't have interruptions in the marketplace," Will said. "We'll be up and running by Monday."
Will said he's glad no one was hurt but lamented the loss of the 105-year-old building he's owned for more than a decade.
"I just feel bad for my building because I love the old thing and it's one of the oldest buildings in town," he said.
Investigators haven't yet determined what caused the fire, yet they too are hampered by the condition of the building, Reilly said. Those investigators were still surveying the damage Thursday.
"We still have a major portion of the roof that is down on the ground," he said.
Source:  Record Searchlight Link


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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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