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Pacific Plastics Design Inc. is buying a 24,000-square-foot building in Sylmar, Calif., as the next step in the thermoformer's slow recovery from a major Aug. 3 arson fire.

``We expect to take possession in about 60 days and be operational in the new facility in April,'' said owner and President Don Asenbauer, who founded the business in 1971.

In October, Pacific Plastics got back into business with four lines in 6,000 square feet of temporary quarters adjacent to its former site in Glendale. Sylmar is about 20 miles away, also in Los Angeles County.

The fire caused about $1.25 million in damage to the 20,000-square-foot facility. Asenbauer salvaged a toolroom mill and lathe but lost molds, inventory and equipment on seven lines with a value of ``at least another $1.25 million.'' Pacific Plastics employed 26 and achieved record sales of $1.3 million for the year ended Sept. 30, despite losing two months of production.

Now, the firm employs 12 and anticipates current fiscal year sales of about $750,000 from output of four vacuum forming presses. The equipment includes 4-by-6-foot, 4-by-4-foot and 3-by-3-foot single stations and a 4-by-6-foot custom rotary.

Two full-time mold makers and a part-timer are ``building tooling as quickly as we can for customers we retained,'' Asenbauer said.

The fire burned for more than four hours, melting steel girders and leaving a coating of plastic production materials on the concrete floor. Glendale authorities arrested a 14-year-old boy who allegedly said he set the fire. He faces a Jan. 27 court date.