Fire destroys Fremont machinery shop building


C&H Enterprises made parts for the aerospace, semi-conductor, and defense industries. The owners are left unsure if they'll be able to honor those contracts. And workers we spoke to are wondering what their holiday season will be like now that they're out of a job.

Fire investigators posted a danger sign on the C&H Enterprises building Friday. The building is uninhabitable and the future of the business is unknown.

Workers gathered to find out when and if they will ever get back on the job. Manager Jim O'Reilly says they have contracts to honor, "We got customers that need their parts all over the world."

Most of those parts were destroyed in Thursday's fire. The four-alarm blaze started without warning at about 1:45 p.m. Flames reached as high as fifty feet and black smoke billowed out into the nearby hills.

Fire investigators combed through the debris trying to determine exactly how it started. Deputy Fire Marshall Amiel Thurston says the fire was accidental.

"A molten piece of material that was a product of a grinding operation getting into a part of the exhaust system igniting a fire in the exhaust system," Thurston said.

That fire then spread through the shop's ventilation system and to its roof. No one was injured. And many of the more than 50 workers who were looking forward to the holidays wonder when they might get back to work.

"You always wonder about the future of the company," C&H employee Lamar Edwards said. "What's gonna happen, how we're gonna move forward."

Many of the workers were depressed about their loss and were reluctant to talk. They met as a group and were told that the shop's owners were already looking for another site. They were also told that pay would most likely continue through the holidays, though that won't be certain until C&H's insurance company weighs in.

One worker told us, "They supposed to pay us like our full wages until we get our unemployment or whatever they going to do."

Managers say the owners have already found some buildings they could lease to get back to production as soon as possible. But first they have to replace more than a million dollars in high tech machinery that was lost in the fire

Copyright © 2023 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.