Firefighter hurt, homes damaged as fire tears through recycling business

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SPRING VALLEY, Calif. – A fire at a recycling center in Spring Valley left a firefighter injured and two homes damaged, authorities said.

Four firefighters were seen carrying the injured man away from the facility in the 3800 block of Bancroft Drive about an hour after the fire sparked. The firefighter, who was injured by a falling stack of cardboard, could be seen sitting up and talking before being placed in an ambulance.

The firefighter was being treated at Sharp Memorial Hospital after fracturing his left shoulder and leg.

Mounds of cardboard and other recyclables were burning outside the facility around 6:30 a.m., fire officials said. Firefighters continued to battle the fire as of 9 a.m.

Four homes near the facility were evacuated as a precaution. The actual commercial building on the property was not damaged, Sanchez said. One unit in a nearby duplex had extensive damage and the adjacent unit was damaged by smoke.

Resident Jorge Lizearraga was startled when he saw the flames.

“I threw my shoes on ran down. I was about to hop the fence and help the people over there, but the sheriff told me to knock on doors and get the people to move their spots,” said Lizearraga.

The fire, which was brought under control within two hours, started in a large bundle of cardboard. What caused it to start was under investigation.

“What we’re up against is massive quantities of paper and cardboard materials bound into large cubes and stacked on one another. Once a fire gets established in that kind of material it can be in there, unless we go in there and break it up, we’ll never be able to get it out. We’ll never be able to put it out by conventional methods,” said CAL Fire Captain Isaac Sanchez.

The fire prompted authorities to shut down Bancroft Drive from state Route 94 to Kenwood Drive, and Helix Street between Bancroft Street and Kenwood Drive, according to the county Department of Public Works.

Later in the day, another firefighter was transported for evaluation for a heat-related injury.

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