An early morning fire Sunday destroyed the Initiative Foods baby food plant in Sanger, CA, when a fire started at the nearby railroad tracks and spread to the facility.
The blaze broke out at 2:30 a.m. and multiple agencies ended up called in to assist as the fire kept growing. Hours after it started, firefighters continued to work to get it fully contained and firefighters from 11 different departments responded, facing numerous challenges — one being the materials inside the plant.
The fire destroyed a complex of buildings encompassing about 200,000 square feet.
“We had a lot of cardboard and wood pallets that were burning,” Sanger Fire Chief Greg Tarascou said. “We had some gas let off as well as propane tanks and ammonium tanks (suffered damage).”
Wind change also presented some obstacles as well.
“(Wind) did play a part where we put our equipment however we were able to keep the fire within the building and not extend exposure to the north or the east,” Tarascou said.
An employee on scene said about 80 to 90 percent of the business is gone. The fire started near the railroad tracks, spread to the factory area and moved into the warehouse. There’s also a second building south of the factory that’s affected, but the main concern has been keeping it away from the office building.
The following is a statement from company owner, John Ypma:
“Team members, we have suffered a terrible loss as the plant and warehouses are gone. Fortunately, no one was injured and our brave firefighters did a terrific job of keeping our neighbors safe. On Monday we will meet at the site and then move to our facility down on Industrial way. Please join me for an all-employee meeting at 9:00 so that we can talk about our future. While a setback, we will continue and build better than ever.”
Initiative Foods makes Nature’s Promise baby foods and the Organic store brand seen at Sprouts and Safeway/Vons stores. It employed 100 people.