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Firefighters Cap Blaze at 7-Up Plant

City firefighters got an early, unwanted fireworks show Tuesday when carbon dioxide cylinders began exploding while they fought a fire at a soft-drink plant.

Fire crews responded to the 7-Up distributor at 1110 Taft Ave., where a fire was burning cardboard and plastic stacked outside the building, Fire Division Chief Frank Frasz said. By the time firefighters arrived, about 2:30 p.m., flames had reached two dozen vending machines lined up nearby and about 100 mostly empty carbon-dioxide cylinders, he said.

The heat weakened their metal shells and expanded the gases inside, causing two to explode.

“It gets your attention when they go off,” Frasz said. “A lot of other ones were blowing their relief valves.”

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Firefighters spotted the potential danger, though, and used long-range hoses to stay back 150 feet from the flames, he said. They had the blaze under control within 45 minutes, Frasz said.

The fire scorched the outside of the building and caused one sprinkler to go off inside, he said. But most of the damage--about $100,000 worth--was to the vending machines, cylinders and other materials outside, he said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Frasz said.


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