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Monday evening's fire at Mid Valley Iron, Metal and Plastic in southwest Ceres was reminiscent of two huge fires that have previously struck Bonzi Recycling plant. But firefighters say the pile of recyclables that caught fire was smaller than the monstrous Bonzi fires of before.

Six fire departments responded to the fire after it broke out at 5:15 p.m., at the business at 1015 Montclair Drive, sending plumes of black smoke into the air. The fire was overseen by Ceres Fire Captain Michael Lillie and was under control by 6:23 p.m.

"Apparently they were either cutting or grinding and sparks got into the cardboard and then jumped over to the plastic that was baled and waiting for recycling," said Ceres Fire Chief Brian Hunt. "That's what produced lots of black smoke."

The blaze damaged the building and a couple of buildings adjacent to the stacks of materials, said Hunt. An official damage estimate has not been produced but Hunt said it would likely be in the neighborhood of $700,000 considering lost product.

"The buildings weren't a total loss but there is lots of outside damage that needs to be fixed."

Hunt said that Mid Valley Iron, Metal and Plastic collects recyclable materials in the industrial area south of Service Road.

"It was just the Bonzi fires only on a smaller scale," commented Hunt. Bonzi caught fire on May 13, 2008 and on Sept. 14, 2006. Hunt said Monday's fire was extinguished much faster as a result of efficient work as well as a smaller poundage of plastic involved. Mid Valley has a smaller more confined area to store materials unlike the large open area at Bonzi.

Hunt said Fire Marshall Brian Nicholes had planned to go out and talk to business' managers about ways to keep a similar fire from happening again.

Fire agencies helping Ceres fight the fire were Stanislaus Consolidated, Hughson, Keyes, Modesto and Westport fire agencies.