California food plant fire contained; evacuations remain | nation


SALINAS, Calif. (AP) – Firefighters have contained a massive blaze at a food processing plant in central California that prompted authorities to order thousands of nearby residents to evacuate Thursday and tens of thousands more to stay in their homes .

The fire broke out Wednesday night at the Taylor Farms lettuce factory in Salinas, about 110 miles south of San Francisco.

The blazes were under control late Thursday morning, but shelter and evacuation orders remained in place while hazmat crews worked on the scene, said Sophia Rome, a spokeswoman for the city of Salinas.

Authorities initially said they feared the fire could cause an explosion and a cloud of dangerous ammonia, but the Salinas Fire Department later said those threats appeared minimal.

About 2,700 people living closest to the facility were told to evacuate, while 35,000 others were ordered to take shelter in their homes, the Monterey County Bureau of Emergency Services said in a statement.

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Those who stayed at home were urged to close windows and turn off ventilation systems “until further notice,” the statement said. Finally, around 1:30 p.m., the shelter and evacuation orders were lifted

Officials said some people were evacuated after the fire was reported at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday. Officials did not say what started the fire.

A woman who answered the phone at Taylor Farms in Salinas urged a reporter to call back later for information.

Salinas has a population of approximately 160,000 people and is located in an important agricultural region.

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