Flames engulf abandoned meat processing plant; building collapses

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ESCONDIDO, Calif. -- An abandoned meat processing plant collapsed about 90 minutes after a fire broke out and ripped through the building in Escondido Thursday.

The fire started at the old Talone's Market at 555 N. Hale Avenue around 9 a.m.  Flames were shooting hundreds of feet into the air and thick, black smoke could be seen billowing from the building near Interstate 15.

 

An incident commander decided that the extent and nature of the fire made entering the building too dangerous, so the personnel fought it from the outside only, according to Murdock.

“We’re putting water through open doors and windows and through the rooftops with our aerial ladders," said Escondido Fire Chief Russ Knowles.

Though two transients were feared to be inside the burning structure, fire officials eventually concluded that the pair had gotten out safely, and no injuries were reported.

Flames quickly engulfed the old, dilapidated building causing it to eventually collapse.

“Sad because most of my life I spent there working see,” said retired Talone's employee Tony Puerta.

Tony Puerta watched as the fire destroyed the building. He worked at Talone’s for close to 40 years.

“Well sad, you know? Sad to see it burn down because I spent all my life there,”

Talone showed FOX 5 photos of the plant when it first opened up, along with Tony and the rest of the original Talone team. Now all that’s left is the rubble and the memories of what it once was.

“Yes, lot of memories, yes, yes," said Puerta.

Nearby roadways were blocked off due to the fire, and Sprinter train service was halted between the Escondido Transit Center on West Valley Parkway and the Nordahl Road Station into the mid-afternoon. Power in the immediate area also was deactivated for the safety of emergency personnel.

By 3 p.m., all streets in the area were open again, with the exception of a stretch of Hale Avenue, and electrical service had been restored, Murdock said.

Nearly 100 firefighters from agencies across the North County and San Diego battled the blaze. Some of the personnel were expected to remain at the scene overnight, making sure there was no possibility of flare-ups.

It was unclear when fire investigators might be able to get inside the ravaged structure to search for the origin of the blaze and determine the cause, the spokesman said.