Multi-million Dollar Fire Probed
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Multi-million Dollar Fire Probed

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Fire department and police experts are investigating the cause of a fire last Friday night that destroyed the Cargal Cardboard Factory in Lod, Israel’s largest manufacturer of cardboard. The fire caused damage estimated at tens of millions of dollars, the largest loss by fire in Israel’s history.

The fire broke out when only several watchmen were in the building. Two fire companies from Ramleh were unable to control the blaze and eventually hundreds of firemen and 30 engines from Tel Aviv were called in. They were assisted by many of the 550 workers in the plant who left their dinners in an attempt to save the building.

Arson is suspected because, after a major fire some eight years ago, a modern fire protection system was installed but it failed to check Friday’s fire in time. Joe Schwartz, of Boston, president of Cargal, said that experts from the American International Paper Union are scheduled to arrive today to investigate the cause of the fire and also plan the reconstruction of the plant. One problem will be finding work for the 550 Cargal employes while the plant is being rebuilt.

Meanwhile, there was some concern that the shipment of agricultural products abroad might be hurt by the lack of cardboard since Cargal supplied about two-thirds of the cardboard used in Israel. Most of the cardboard needed for the citrus industry had already been shipped to packing houses. Ministry of Agriculture officials said other cardboard manufacturers will be asked to increase production and a large number of wood cases would be used. However, there is not enough cardboard for the other fruits and vegetables that are to be exported.

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