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Local News in Brief : Blaze at SOS Plant Causes $40,000 Damage; None Hurt

March 19, 1985

Afire at the Space Ordnance Systems plant near Canyon Country caused an estimated $40,000 damage early Monday, but no one was injured, fire officials said.

The fire occurred shortly after midnight in an unmanned earthen and wooden structure used to manufacture infrared flares, said Burl Alison, vice president of TransTechnology Corp. of Sherman Oaks, of which SOS is a subsidiary.

The fire was reported by a guard, said Inspector Pat Bradshaw of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The blaze was evidently caused by a malfunction in six ovens used to process the flares, Alison said. Twenty-five flares "popped" in small explosions during the blaze, she said. The flares, made of magnesium, Teflon and rubber, are ejected from military aircraft to serve as decoys against heat-seeking missiles from enemy aircraft, Alison said. The batch of flares was being made under a contract with the Swiss government.

Because the structure was filled with explosive materials and the fire posed no threat to the public, firemen stood by until the fire burned itself out at about 2:30 a.m., Bradshaw said.

SOS is involved in a controversy over the storage of explosive wastes at both its Sand Canyon plant, where the fire occurred, and at its Mint Canyon plant at Agua Dulce. The company is seeking approval to destroy more than 1,500 drums of the wastes by open burning in the desert in northeast Los Angeles County. The fire did not involve those wastes.

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