Palo Alto fire officials are investigating a fire that occurred Thursday afternoon at Communication & Power Industry (CPI), a Hansen Way manufacturer whose operations the city is in the process of phasing out.
Firefighters said the fire took place in Building 2, the main building where the company stores hazardous materials and where manufacturing takes place. It was reported at about 1:37 p.m., though by the time firefighters arrived at 1:41 p.m., CPI employees had extinguished it.
No hazardous materials were released, according to the fire department.
Fire inspectors were investigating the fire and the overall conditions at Building 2 on Thursday afternoon. According to a statement from the department, the fire occurred in a magnetic testing cabinet where frayed electric wires heated hydraulic oils in the bottom of the pan in the cabinet.
The fire was contained to the inside of the cabinet, fire officials said.
The Thursday incident occurred less than two months after the City Council voted to begin the amortization process for CPI, a manufacturer of microwave and radio-frequency equipment. The vote came after years of lobbying from Barron Park residents who have long maintained that the hazardous materials used by CPI endanger the lives of people who live in the neighborhood.
The company had three accidents between 2005 and 2008, a case in 2005 in which nitric acid was released into the air and two chemical spills that occurred in March and May of 2008. Since then, the company has reduced the amount of hazardous chemicals used at the site and installed new "backup safety systems," the company's president Bob Fickett told the City Council on Oct. 6, before the vote to phase out the company.
Fickett also noted at that meeting that in the company's 50 years at the site, not a single resident or employee has been harmed by the plating shop's operations.
"We take the health and safety of our employees and the community very seriously," he said.
An analysis commissioned by the city found that while a hazardous event stemming from CPI's operations is very unlikely, it's not impossible. A major earthquake that ruptures tanks, prompting the mixing of chemicals, could release hydrogen cyanide that would harm residents up to 616 feet from the plating shop, the study concluded.