Firefighters were forced to battle a blaze at a Carson business without water due to hazardous material that caught fire near the commercial building Tuesday morning, authorities said.
The fire broke out just after 10 a.m. in a storage area of SOS Metals Incorporated in the 200 block of E. Gardena Boulevard, where nearby scraps of titanium metal soon caught fire and became firefighters' main concern, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
"We want to make sure we don't put any water on titanium," Capt. Brian Jordan said. "Because titanium when it's burning actually takes the water and the fire gets bigger."
A hazmat crew was called to the scene to ensure that the hazardous smoke from the titanium was burning up and out of the area, and several nearby businesses were temporarily evacuated.
At least 45 firefighters used sand to extinguish the blaze and allowed the titanium to "consume itself" until the fire was knocked down just after 12:20 p.m., according to LACFD Inspector Randall Wright said.
No injuries were reported and most of the employees who had been evacuated, including Ashley Fuentes of Universal Compressor, were soon able to return to work.
"It was a big fire, it looked like a cloud of mushrooms," Fuentes said. "We were scared, I could feel the heat from where we were standing."
Workers in industrial areas are typically well-prepared to evacuate in case of emergency.
"We have a lot of evacuation spots here," Fuentes said. "We have about three or four exits."
Metal fires can smolder for hours or even days, according to firefighters, and the titanium business was closed Tuesday evening.