Blaze Destroys Pallet-Making Business in California

A massive fire destroyed a pallet-making business and adjacent lumber yard near Richmond Parkway on Tuesday night, throwing flames eight stories high.

Nobody was reported injured or missing.

At least 11 engines fought the blaze for four hours to bring it under control. Clean-up crews remained Wednesday to prevent flare-ups, said Battalion Chief Alan Biagi of the Rodeo-Hercules Fire Department.

"It was about three or four acres full of various material. There were stacks of wooden pallets, I'd say about 30 feet high," Biagi said. "There was some type of milling operation next door ... there were stacks of huge logs burning."

A 911 caller reported the fire about 10:55 p.m. at Cypress Pallet, a business near the West County Wastewater District plant on Garden Tract Road, acting Richmond Fire Chief Michael Banks said.

Garden Tract Road is west of the parkway, in a sparsely inhabited, marshy area near San Pablo Bay. Firefighters found nobody at the property, and were unable to move some large trucks to prevent them from burning.

The fire destroyed one or two flatbed trucks, a mobile home and a pickup truck along with some smaller panel trucks, firefighters said.

Much of the yard was engulfed when fire engines arrived, Biagi said. Fallen power lines blocked access to some of the fire. The fire quickly consumed vehicles, fencing and a large warehouse building that contained manufacturing equipment.

"It was a difficult fire. Part of it was the remote location," Biagi said.

Contra Costa Fire District and a mixed battalion of engines from the Rodeo-Hercules and Pinole fire departments joined Richmond about midnight. The blaze came under control about 3 a.m.

Firefighters and equipment from the Moraga-Orinda Fire District and the Contra Costa Public Works department also assisted.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation Wednesday. Crews have not yet compiled an estimate of the loss. The owner of Cypress Pallet was not immediately available for comment.

Distributed by the Associated Press