Tulare and Kings Co authorities investigating fire

December 15, 2012 12:17:24 AM PST
Investigators from Tulare and Kings County are in Terra Bella trying to determine what exactly caused that massive fire at a plastics plant.

The fire destroyed a building for the company called Tuff Stuff in Terra Bella.

Fire officials say the company Tuff Stuff suffered a multi-million dollar loss from this fire just from all the materials and equipment inside.

We also have some new pictures of what the fire first looked like when it started.

The photos taken by Mike Delussa, who works at the business next door, show the size of the flames and the uncontrollable smoke when a fire erupted at plastics company Tuff Stuff in Terra Bella.

The fire burned for five hours Thursday and destroyed a 33 thousand square foot building and all the contents inside.

Tuff Stuff employee Mario Vences still showed up to work today to answer fire investigators questions about what happened.

He says he had only been on his lunch break for five minutes when he heard an employee yell over the loud speaker to call the fire department.

"They told us 'hey grab your stuff in case the fire starts spreading this way' and you know really quick we picked up our things and walked outside," Vences said.

Though employees had first tried to put the fire out with an extinguisher it was clear the flames were spreading too fast for them to put it out.

"But once it got caught up on the roof there was nothing you could do with fire extinguishers on the roof so that's when we decided let's get out," Vences said.

Fire investigators from across the county and in Kings County spent the day looking over the burned mess to try and determine a cause. Tuff Stuff recycles plastic to make large plastic tubs and other products. Firefighters had to use a special foam to put out the stubborn fire. Ten firefighters even spent the night to make sure it didn't rekindle.

"They had minor flare ups here and there mainly because of the way the structure collapsed due to its construction," Tulare County Fire Investigator Capt. Joe Rosa said.

Rosa says his team is now looking for what caused the fire.

"But we're also taking written statements trying to figure out where they saw the fire what was it doing when they saw it," Rosa said.

The family who owns the business did not want to comment but fire officials tell us they are grieving over this multi-million dollar loss to their company.


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