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The Latest – Friday, Feb. 4

1:35 p.m.

As of 1:12 p.m., northbound Highway 99 was reopened in Live Oak, Caltrans tweeted. One southbound lane has also reopened.

12:45 p.m.

As of 12:19 p.m., Caltrans said Highway 99 was still closed in Live Oak and traffic has started backing up on local streets.

Drivers traveling between Chico and Yuba City should use alternate routes, Caltrans tweeted.

11:45 a.m.

In its latest update, Cal Fire said that the fire was still burning at the vacant walnut plant in Live Oak.

“Fire continues burning in the hundreds of bins stacked around the property edges. A column of black smoke can periodically be seen as the fire finds the right fuel and oxygen combination and flames flare up. We continue to have 5 engines and a BC committed,” Cal Fire’s Butte County Unit tweeted.

Original story below:

LIVE OAK, Calif. (KTXL) — A vacant walnut factory in Live Oak was engulfed in flames Friday morning, prompting evacuations for neighbors and a partial closure of nearby Highway 99.

Sutter County Undersheriff Scott Smallwood said flames spread through the old Diamond Walnut Growers processing plant at Live Oak Boulevard at 7:30 a.m. A camera located miles away in the Sutter Buttes showed a towering column of smoke coming from the site of the blaze.

“It’s a huge building, right? Flames were very big, it was large as you could see coming in,” Undersheriff Smallwood told FOX40. “Kudos to our fire department. They responded quickly and got control in a pretty good time.”

Residents to the north, south and west of the abandoned factory were evacuated, Smallwood told FOX40.

FOX40 spoke with neighbor Mark Bradley II, who said he could feel the intense heat from the flames as they took over the building just steps away from his home.

“It sounded like a cement truck rolling cement outside my house, and then it was just 100 degrees right at my back door,” Bradley explained.

First responders said the vacant building was being used as a storage facility and officials do not believe anyone was inside at the time of the fire.

Nearby Highway 99 is closed in both directions from Pennington Road to Kola Street, the California Highway Patrol reported. The CHP could not say when that portion of the highway would reopen.

Cal Fire reported it is also sending crews to the scene to help Sutter County firefighters.

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This story is developing. Check back for updates.