Multiple buildings catch fire in Santa Fe Springs after crash

Two firefighters were injured Monday while battling a fast-moving, five-alarm fire at a Santa Fe Springs plastics recycling facility.

The fire, which was reported at 1:43 p.m. at Multi-Link International Corp. at 12235 Los Nietos Road, was sparked by high voltage power lines that were downed when a utility truck struck and sheared a power pole, Santa Fe Springs Fire Department Chief Michael Crook told City News Service.

The truck also sheared a fire hydrant, which was spewing water when firefighters arrived on scene, Crook said.

Crews had to shut down the street so that electricity could be shut off and they could stop the flow from the sheared hydrant, which caused a loss of water pressure at other hydrants near the facility, Crook said.

Three buildings on the property went up in flames and firefighters were assessing adjacent structures for damage, Crook said.

At least one vehicle was also burned in the fire.

Firefighters brought the blaze under control by about 5 p.m., but continued to deal with hot spots and were expected to remain on scene for hours if not through the night, Crook said.

About 100 firefighters, from the Santa Fe Springs, Downey, Compton, Vernon, Montebello and Los Angeles County fire departments responded, he said.

Around 50 employees from the recycling facility and other businesses were safely evacuated, Crook said.

One of the injured firefighters suffered a minor foot injury and the other experienced heat exhaustion, and both were taken to a hospital, according to the chief.

The driver of the flatbed truck that hit the power pole declined to be taken to a hospital, Crook said.

Crews monitored the water runoff for possible unsafe level of contaminants did not reach storm drains, he said.

The fire sent thick clouds of black smoke into the air and the South Coast Air Quality Management District issued an advisory saying that air quality would "likely reach unhealthy levels in areas directly impacted by smoke for significant periods of time.''

"Depending on evolving conditions, areas of direct smoke impacts and unhealthy air quality will likely include areas of southeast Los Angeles County and into the south San Gabriel Valley,'' according to a district statement.

"Nothing ever goes as planned or how you trained. The guys did an absolutely outstanding job,'' Crook said of how crews dealt with the multiple complications they faced at the scene.

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