Staff writers

UNION CITY -- A two-alarm fire sent employees of a bakery company scrambling to escape Wednesday morning, an Alameda County Fire spokeswoman said.

All 25 employees at Sterling Foods escaped without injury after the blaze broke out about 5:15 a.m. at an industrial building in the 33300 block of Western Avenue, spokeswoman Aisha Knowles said. A sprinkler system inside the building activated after fire alarms sounded, and the employees left the building and were accounted for when fire crews arrived, Knowles said.

The employees were working the overnight shift at the company, which operates 24 hours a day and produces baked goods, including bagels. Crews sounded a second alarm after they saw the size of the building and the amounts of smoke billowing from it, Knowles said. Flames also were visible coming from a small part of the roof.

"I looked up, and I saw a lot of smoke," said employee Channa Mey, 45, of Oakland. "Everybody ran outside, and someone called 911. It was kind of scary, but I'm thankful everyone is OK."

Crews put out the fire in about 40 minutes. Investigators were trying to determine how the blaze began and did not give a monetary estimate of the damages. At least part of the building was shut down while crews cleaned up water and other debris. It was not known how long it would remain closed, Knowles said.

A sister plant located in Southern California will help with the orders that the Union City plant is unable to deliver because of the fire, Knowles said.

Contact Rick Hurd at 925-945-4789 and follow him at Twitter.com/3rdERH. Contact Natalie Neysa Alund at 510-293-2469 and follow her at Twitter.com/nataliealund.