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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | WEST COUNTY / OXNARD

Fire Prompts Evacuation at P & G Facility

June 17, 1998|RICHARD WARCHOL

A small fire inside a power generating room at the massive Procter & Gamble Co. plant forced the evacuation Tuesday morning of about 25 employees but caused little damage and no injuries, city fire officials said.

Fire officials suspected that the fire on the top floor of a two-story building may have been caused by hot tar from a roofing job on a neighboring third-story roof.

In a short statement, Procter & Gamble officials said they were investigating the cause and refused further speculation.

Noting a 4-by-4-foot hole burned through the roof, Oxnard Fire Department spokesman Bill Scobey said fire officials are still unsure whether the fire started inside the power room or on the roof.

"There's all kinds of speculation going on right now," Scobey said.

By the time 35 city and county firefighters arrived at the 7:34 a.m. fire, a plant sprinkler system had apparently extinguished the flames, leaving only heavy smoke from smoldering roofing material, tar paper and plywood, Scobey said.

The fire occurred inside a 25-by-50-foot power-generating room inside the 120-acre plant on Rice Avenue, where Procter & Gamble produces Charmin toilet paper and Bounty paper towels, fire officials said.

The room houses one of three turbines that power the paper mill.

The fire occurred between an electrical switching room and a back-up turbine able to produce the same power generated by a Boeing 747 aircraft engine, Scobey said.

Although the turbine is powered by anhydrous ammonia, there was never any risk of a hazardous material fire or leak, Scobey said.

No estimate of the damages was immediately available, fire officials said.

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