Flames Destroying Candle Factory Fed by 8000-Gallon Paraffin Tank
Famous Fires and the Lessons Learned
Photos by Mike Meadows
A stubborn, hot fire in a North Hollywood candle factory challenged control by Los Angeles City fire fighters.
The alarm for the fire at the Continental Candle Company, 11165 Pendleton, North Hollywood, was received by operations control at 7:30 p.m. on April 20. The first-alarm assignment included Engine 77, Task Force 89 and Battalion 12 Chief Stan Overby.
First-in units found the 50 x 150-foot cement block building with a panelized roof totally involved. At 7:39 p.m. Overby requested additional equipment. Task Force 60, Engine 81, Division 3 Commander Jake Dukes and Battalion 14 Chief Bill Neville were dispatched. Subsequent requests brought Task Forces 73 and 98 and Engines 102 and 107.
The fire apparently started in the middle of the area where restauranttype candles were processed,” Dukes said. “The heat built up quickly and the fire was going strong within the four exterior walls when we arrived.
“The fire was stubborn, persistent and almost like a flammable liquid fire,” the chief added.
He reported that in the rear of the building there was an 8000-gallon tank of paraffin in solution which had piping connected to feed units inside the work area.
“We later determined that the paraffin was feeding the interior flames, thereby causing the tremendous heat.”
The chief noted that the panelized roof collapsed so that firemen could not enter the burning building.
“We decided to use heavy stream appliances to cool the burning wax. Ladder pipes were set up on Truck 89 in the front and Truck 60 at the rear while batteries were placed at the front and back with numerous hand lines also used.”
The chief recalled that the heavy streams appeared to have little effect on the fiercely hot fire.
“We considered high expansion foam, but felt it would blow away because of the intense heat being generated.
“We then decided to try AFFF and I called for Light Water 100. We used AFFF, but it had little effect on the fire because of the unevenness of the interior area.”
The chief then ordered continued use of heavy streams until the fuel burned out. There was no major threat to exposures. Containment, but not full control, was made in about an hour and a half.
The next morning, skip loaders were used to remove the wax.