HOGANSBURG, N.Y. (AP) -By the time a dozen firefighters put out the blaze at a cigarette manufacturing plant, they were covered in smoke.

“When they came out, they were blacker than the ace of spades,” said Fire Chief Frank Lacaranza.

Firefighters were called to the Native Trading Post warehouse on Christmas Eve after a night security guard noticed smoke billowing out of the building.

Lacaranza said it appeared the fire started in the wiring of one of the machines used to make cigarettes. The fire broke out sometime after the plant closed for the day Wednesday, Lacaranza said.

“It was smoldering in there for a while, and when we got there it was pretty intense,” he said.

The plant was full of products used to make cigarettes including tobacco, filters, paper and cardboard boxes.

It took firefighters about three hours to extinguish the blaze that started on the first floor of the warehouse.

“We were able to contain it there, but the rest of the place suffered extensive heat and smoke damage,” Lacaranza told the Plattsburgh Press-Republican

AP-ES-12-25-03 2100EST

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