Panorama City building fire sparks hazmat concern


Part of the single-story building collapsed due to the blaze, which was reported shortly after 3 a.m. on the 14000 block of Arminta Street.

Fire crews say cyanide was one of the chemicals believed to be inside the football-field-sized structure, so hazardous materials crews were called to the scene. Fire officials later confirmed that hazardous chemicals were not found in offsite air or water runoff.

There were no reports of injuries, though some nearby businesses were evacuated.

Firefighters went into defensive mode, trying to keep the flames from spreading to surrounding buildings. It took 162 firefighters about two hours to knockdown the blaze. Although there were no more flames, the hot metal inside the building continued to smolder into the afternoon.

Two men who were inside the structure when the fire erupted said they were working their overnight shifts when they noticed the flames. One of the workers, Gerardo Sanchez, said he tried to put out the flames with a fire extinguisher, but the blaze was just too strong. Sanchez and his co-worker were not injured, just shaken up.

The men said they work for Cal Tech Precision Inc., which rents equipment at the building. The building on fire and an adjacent building are owned by Nationwide Displays and Arrow Chrome Plating, both metal-plating companies.

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