REDLANDS (CBS/AP) — Investigators are working to determine what caused a fire early Friday that destroyed a distribution facility in Southern California that was used to ship items to Amazon customers. Authorities said employees got out and there were no reports of injuries.
A half-dozen fire departments were unable to stop flames from destroying the sprawling structure in Redlands, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. The nearby Interstate 10 freeway was shut down temporarily as flames shot high into the air.
“All I could hear is my supervisors yelling, ‘fire,’ and ‘get out of the building as fast as you can,’” employee Aquila Canteen told CBS LA. “And I could see people scattering.”
There were about 40 employees inside when the fire broke out.
“Within 15 minutes the whole back of the building collapsed and exploded,” Canteen said.
In a statement to CBS LA, Amazon said the warehouse is operated by a third-party company called Kuehne & Nagel which specifically helps Amazon ship very large items such as mattresses.
“We are glad everyone is safe, and thankful for the efforts of the local firefighters and first responders,” Amazon wrote. “This site was operated by a third party and we will support them throughout this process.”
The fire was brought under control by 11 a.m., but crews with the Redlands and San Bernardino County firefighters remained on scene dousing hot spots.
Fire Chief Jim Topoleski said investigators will look into how such a large fire occurred in a modern building with the latest in fire protection systems.
The region has many enormous e-commerce warehouse and distribution facilities.
© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report