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Fire erupts in El Monte furniture factory

November 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
El Monte authorities have wrapped up an investigation into the cause of a fire at a furniture manufacturing business Friday morning.The blaze broke out around four at Master Design Sofa Incorporate near Potrero Avenue and Rush Street.

At 4 a.m., neighbors heard the sound of trouble before they saw it, like a car crash describes El Monte resident Sony Sunyh.

"I heard a really big noise, like big explosion," said Sunyh.

"I heard another electrical rumbling and the another kapoom, like the sky lit up and everything," said another El Monte resident Robert Quiroz.

The source of the fire was power lines.

"I saw it start a little fire at the corner and I was really scared I tried to open the door and run out to the front," said Sunyh.

Firefighters found the perimeter of the furniture factory sparking on to combustible materials.

"When they arrived, there were several different fires and they all merged into one," said Frederic Stowers of the L.A. County Fire Department.

"Then it just exploded everything was coming out of the roof. It was pretty intense," said Stowers.

Inside the 10,000 square-foot building, textiles, wood and lacquer have been reduced to rubble. Owner Connie Nguyen sizes up the dollar loss.

"A million and a half, a lot a lot of fabric. Everything because we were ready for holiday," said Nguyen.

Fire officials estimate the loss at about $3 million, but that's only part of it.

"I really feel bad for myself, my family, my employees and their families," described Nguyen.

"Right now, they stay around here they have no job, I don't know how to save them," she added.

That includes Sunyh, whose mobile home here was demolished.

Even though he no longer has a job or a home, Sunyh said he's grateful that he has his life was spared during the fire.

Another thing to be grateful for is that the fire broke out so early in the morning. Had the fire erupted later on in the day with more workers in the factory or pedestrians in the street, they could have easily been burned or electrocuted.


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