Orange, Calif. — The cause of a four-alarm fire at the Foamex International plant in Orange City Feb. 9 may be linked to an exothermic reaction in a processed foam block.
According to local news reports, no one was injured in the blaze. It started shortly after midnight.
Employees said they were moving foam blocks from storage outside onto a conveyor for processing when they noticed smoke coming from some of the blocks.
"They moved it off of the conveyor belt and they tried to extinguish it, but by that time it had gotten out of hand and had spread to others," Ryan O'Connor, an Orange City Fire Department officer, said.
Firefighters from Orange County, Anaheim Fire & Rescue and the Fullerton Fire Department were needed to assist in containing the fire, and bringing it under control.
"We went into a defensive strategy, using large-diameter hose lines and water towers, to protect all the structures around the property," O'Connor told reporters at the scene.
In 2014, when FXI purchased the site, it said that the facility uses patented variable pressure foaming (VPFSM) technology, which it claimed is"'the most environmentally-friendly foam manufacturing process on the market, resulting in virtually zero emissions."
The polyurethane foaming reaction is exothermic, and foam made from PU is insulating. If a foam formulation is not correctly designed, excess heat can be generated, and become trapped in the centre of the large blocks of foam. This can lead to fires.