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Raging fires kill New York family, rip LA food plant

A firefighter stood atop a ladder battling a fire feeding on soybean oil at a frozen Chinese food plant yesterday in Huntington Park, Calif., that took 100 firefighters six hours to extinguish. A firefighter stood atop a ladder battling a fire feeding on soybean oil at a frozen Chinese food plant yesterday in Huntington Park, Calif., that took 100 firefighters six hours to extinguish. (Nick Ut/ Associated Press)
Associated Press / May 10, 2011

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HUNTINGTON PARK, Calif. — Firefighters quelled a fire yesterday that caused $5 million in damage to a frozen Chinese food plant in Southern California and blackened the sky with a plume of smoke.

Five-thousand gallons of soybean cooking oil fed the flames that took 100 firefighters six hours to extinguish at the Windsor Quality Food Co. plant in Huntington Park, Los Angeles County fire Inspector Matt Levesque said.

About 25 workers were in the plant when it was hit by an explosion around 5:30 a.m., Levesque said. Employees fought the blaze with handheld fire extinguishers before fleeing.

One woman suffered a minor elbow injury when she fell, and a firefighter had a minor injury. The cause of the fire was not immediately known. The blaze burned through the roof and made it too dangerous to send firefighters inside, fire officials said. Instead, they used ladders and hoses to stream water on the roof.

The building housed the Golden Tiger brand of Windsor Quality Food Co. The plant made egg rolls and other Asian items that are sold at Costco and restaurants such as Red Lobster, according to the brand’s website.

In Utica, N.Y., yesterday, a fire in a duplex house killed a mother and her three young children, and witnesses heard banging on the walls as fire tore through the home. The children were ages 1, 2, and 4 years old, Utica Fire Chief Russell Brooks said. The victims’ names were not released

“People were running in the house trying to get the kids out, but there was no hope.’’ said Naronna Nixon, 26, a neighbor.

Fire investigators say preliminary information indicates the fire started on the first floor, spread throughout the entire first floor, and then went up the front stairwell to the bedrooms where the victims were located. The cause was not known.

The blaze broke out about 9:30 a.m. in the home on the city’s west side, fire officials said. When firefighters arrived minutes later, heavy smoke and flames were coming from the first and second floors.

Firefighters, thwarted in their first attempt to search the building when a staircase collapsed, used hoses to push the flames to the rear of the building and conducted a second search.

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