Massive industrial fire rips through foam plant in Orange

A massive fire ripped through a polyurethane foam production plant in Orange just after midnight Wednesday, lighting up the night sky, officials said.

The blaze at Foamex International in the 2000 block of Batavia Street burned for hours and generated intense heat, smoke and flames that could be seen for miles, according to Capt. Ryan O’Connor with the Orange City Fire Authority.

“When we got the call — 12:30 a.m. — most of our units noticed the large plume of smoke and fire from their stations” O’Connor said.

More than 30 units responded to the blaze, including crews from Orange County Fire, Anaheim Fire and Rescue and the Fullerton Fire Department.

Two vehicles and some outbuildings were destroyed in the fire, but no one was injured, O’Connor said. Calls to the business went unanswered Wednesday morning.

The 24-acre facility stores “huge foam buns that are like the size of rail cars,” O’Connor said.

Employees told fire crews they were transporting the material into the building on a conveyor belt when they noticed smoke coming from beneath a foam bun.

They tried to inject water into the bun, but soon the fire “went from one foam bun to the next to the next,” O’Connor said, noting that responders “pretty much from the beginning took a defensive strategy.”

“Once it started to get going, there wasn’t really any amount of water that was going to help,” he said.

Video from KTLA-TV showed an inferno of black smoke and orange fire billowing into the sky above the plant.

It took about two hours to get the fire under control, and crews spent the next four hours extinguishing hot spots, O’Connor said. Crews were able to protect the main building of the plant as well as all its neighbors.

Though the foam is composed of plastic and other flammable materials, officials determined that a hazardous material response was not required, he said.

An investigation into the cause of the fire was underway.

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