Workers dismantling the plant were draining oil from the transformer, which had been used by the main factory on the east side of South First Street, said Patterson Fire Department Division Chief Jeff Gregory.
Gregory said the workers, who are employed by an Arizona-based company, were cutting the transformer with saws when paper and oil residue caught on fire.
Dispatchers received a call about the fire just after 3 p.m.
Firefighters initially used a ladder to reach the top of a concrete wall that separated the power facility from the defunct 66-year-old factory. However, the angle from the top of the wall was insufficient to extinguish the flames using fire hoses.
Firefighters then used West Stanislaus County Fire District’s ladder truck, which was standing by, to attack the flames and get the fire under control by 3:45.
Crew members remained on scene for two more hours as the oil-fueled fire continued to burn, Gregory said.
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