Investigators blame careless use of smoking materials for an April 29 fire that totally destroyed a B&B Plastics Recycling facility near Fontana, Calif., and damaged three other nearby businesses. Mike Huddleston, investigations supervisor with the San Bernardino County Fire Department, estimated losses at $700,000.
About 100 firefighters from six departments responded to the fire about 9 a.m. The fire generated thick black smoke and drew attention from a crowd gathered a mile away for a racing competition at the California Speedway, according to a report in the Riverside Press-Enterprise. Some commercial aircraft on westward approach to Ontario Airport took evasive actions around the dense column. The fire was contained about 1:15 p.m.
Before the fire, the cul-de-sac B&B site had received deliveries of scrap and waste materials in large boxes and crates for about one year, according to neighboring businesses. Another nearby facility of B&B received a Fontana business license in March 1998 and continues to operate.
A rear neighbor, extruder Advanced Drainage Systems, said it lost about 1,800 coils of 3-, 4- and 6-inch plastic piping worth about $100,000. Several workers feverishly tried to relocate coils before the flames spread, an employee said by telephone.
Hazardous-materials personnel monitored the fire's emissions but did not evacuate residents from nearby homes.