Massive fire brings down former Turlock cheese plant

local@modbee.comFebruary 19, 2013 

UPDATE: Firefighters remain on the scene this morning, checking for hot spots and monitoring the structure. Officials said they likely will be there most of the day. Cause of the fire remains under investigation.

TURLOCK — Crews fought a large three-alarm fire Tuesday night at the vacant Lactalis USA cheese plant on West Main Street.

Turlock Fire Department crews responded to a 7:19 p.m. call and arrived to find the 59,000-square-foot building engulfed in flame, said officer Mayra Lewis, a spokeswoman for the Turlock Police Department.

Witnesses were interviewed at the scene. The investigation is in the very preliminary stage, Lewis said, but officials have determined that the fire was suspicious in origin.

There were no reports of injury, Lewis said.

Lactalis USA closed the plant in 2007, laying off 94 workers.

The plant made brie and other specialty cheeses.

Lactalis bought the West Main Street plant in 1985 for $188,500, according to real estate database RealQuest. It sits on 4.5 acres.

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