11:48 (BCN): A four-alarm fire at a South San Francisco meat packaging plant was controlled this morning more than seven hours after it started, a San Mateo County fire dispatcher said.

The fire was reported just after 2 a.m. at a Columbus Salame facility at 465 Cabot Road, and was controlled at 9:45 a.m., the dispatcher said.

The 40,000-square-foot facility is used to slice and package meat for Columbus Salame, a Hayward-based company that sells meat products in supermarkets and retail stores nationwide.

About 10 or 15 maintenance employees were inside the building when the fire started but were immediately evacuated and no one was injured, according to company spokesman Jay Porter.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

Porter said a damage assessment has not yet been made, but that there was “very, very substantial damage to the facility.”

Porter said the company has other slicing and packaging facilities in the Bay Area and will be working to increase capacity at those facilities. The fire will likely cause short-term shipment delays, but the impact on business will be limited, he said.

“We are fortunate and grateful that all of our employees are safe and accounted for,” Columbus Salame CEO Ralph Denisco said in a statement. “We thank the South San Francisco Fire Department and other local fire departments for their quick response to this emergency.”

9:26: Firefighters in South San Francisco continue to fight the four-alarm fire than began at the Columbus Salame Factory early this morning.

Though the fire was not thought to be a concern at first, it quickly grew out of control.

At this point firefighters do not have all the facts about what could have caused the fire, but it is said to have begun on the inside of the factory, near an operations area.

About 20 to 30 employees fled the scene when the fire began at around 2 a.m. this morning- all were able to escape safely and without injury.

The food plant, located at 465 Cabot Road continues to burn intensely, and firefighters anticipate being at the factory all day to tame the flames.

Fire agencies from surrounding cities including Daly City, Burlingame, San Mateo, and Foster City have come out to help put out the fire.

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