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Delay Hurts Firefighting Effort, Official Says

June 18, 1987

SAN LEANDRO, Calif. (AP) _ Workers at a four-story coffee packing plant and warehouse battled a $1 million fire for 20 minutes before calling firefighters, a delay that hampered efforts to control the blaze, a fire inspector said Thursday.

″It would have been a lot smaller fire″ if they had reported it immediately, said San Leandro Fire Department inspector Robert Lundstrom.

When the fire broke out Wednesday at the General Foods Inc. building, workers from a demolition company tried to douse with fire extinguishers and buckets of water.

The fire, which could be spotted 10 miles away, was believed to have started when hot metal embers from a cutting torch fell through a hole in the third floor, igniting a pile of plastic bags and wooden pallets, said Deputy Fire Chief Damon Orr.

General Foods production manager James Cudahy described the building as being ″idle″ during construction.

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