FAIRFIELD, Calif. (CBS13) – A company employee is to blame for a huge fire at Macro Plastics in Fairfield that sent huge clouds of smoke up for hours on Tuesday.
The fire was an accident caused by company employee using an open flame – possibly a torch.
“They were working with some type of open flame around the bins on the outside of the building,” said Fairfield Fire Marshall Morgana Yahnke.
A massive six-alarm fire that sent up a 15-mile wide plume of thick black smoke into the air above Fairfield has been contained, say Fairfield Fire Department officials.
The fire started in a storage yard at Macro Plastics at 2250 Huntington Drive. The company is located near Travis Air Force Base and makes plastic bins.
Residents within a one-mile radius of the fire were told to “shelter in place”, meaning they should close all of the windows of their residence and go into a room without windows to avoid inhaling the dangerous smoke.
The fire was so intense that it created its own weather system. Video of the fire showed what weather experts call “fire whirls”, which are literally fire tornados that can generate their own winds.
The Fire Up Close
Fairfield Fire spokeswoman Morgana Yahnke tells says they had eight firefighting units and 100 people working the blaze. Ladder trucks sprayed both water and foam on the flames. Because plastic was the fuel, firefighters had to use different strategies to fight the blaze.
The Solano County Office of Emergency services says they activated the Mobile Command Unit. Macro Plastics is the world’s largest manufacturer of bulk plastic containers.
Many of the products we use everyday have a connection to Macro Plastics. Following is a list of some of the companies that use the company’s products to transport their products.
– Diamond Fruit Growers
– Sun Pacific
– Grimmway Farms
In 2008, the company was cited by OSHA for not having periodic inspections and for not having an effective injury program. As a result, they were ordered to pay $4,500 in fines.
The company is not offering additional details about the cause. Company officials plan to hold a press conference tomorrow to talk about what went wrong.
The intense flames and smoke at Macro Plastics forced neighbor indoors where they were stuck for hours.
“We could see the flames and the smoke. It was that intense,” said a young Fairfield resident.
It’s impossible to miss smoke billowing into the sky. It was a plume that could be seen across Northern California.
“It was like, huge and covering up the whole sky,” said one resident.
And it’s that thick, black cloud that had some neighbors concerned. Many were unsure of just how toxic that smoke may be. It prompted a “shelter in place” order within a one-mile radius of Macro Plastics.
“That that just means turn down your air conditioner and to stay in if at all possible,” said city of Fairfield spokesperson Gail Spears.
Usually people would be out in the park, but not tonight. It appears as if most people are listening to the city’s warning.
“Some of our recreation programs have decided to cease for the afternoon so the kids aren’t inhaling the smoke,” said Spears.
Still there were those who ignored the warning and just couldn’t stay away. They snapped pictures, hoping to get a glimpse of what was filling the sky.
“I’m nosy. I want to know what is going on,” said one onlooker.
“I wanted to see how close it was to my house,” said another onlooker.
“It’s almost like a neighborhood event just because it’s so unusual,” said one person.
It’s unclear when the “shelter in place” order will be is lifted.