Burbank tobacco wholesaler goes up in smoke, fire knocked down

It took firefighters in Burbank more than three hours Friday morning to knock down a three-alarm fire that destroyed a wholesale cigarette and tobacco business.

The fire at Wholesale Giant Inc., at 4410 W. Victory Blvd., was reported at 3:30 a.m., with firefighters from several outside agencies, including Los Angeles and Pasadena, called in to assist.

Firefighters had to get out of the burning building when flames extended into the attic and the roof collapsed.

Carbon dioxide tanks in the shop reportedly exploded, and butane cigarette lighters began exploding after that.

“Once they became overheated, they exploded like a bunch of missiles flying off in there,” said Burbank Fire Capt. Peter Hendrickson.

On Friday afternoon, firefighters were still putting out small fires inside the building. A portion of Victory Boulevard was closed for hours as crews cleaned the mess up.

The cause of the blaze was under investigation, according to Burbank police, and no injuries were reported.

“It’s suspicious — that’s all I can say right now,” Hendrickson said.

After the roof collapsed, firefighters got on the rooftops of nearby stores to prevent the fire from spreading, Hendrickson added.

There was no immediate estimate of the cost of the building and its contents.

“It’s just walls and a pile of burned stuff in the middle,” Hendrickson said.

Surrounding buildings were not damaged, officials said.

Attempts to reach the owners of Wholesale Giant were unsuccessful.


Bob Pool is a Los Angeles Times staff writer.

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