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California city votes to end dispute with Sriracha hot sauce maker

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IRWINDALE, Calif. - The fiery fight is apparently over between the makers of a popular hot sauce and a small Southern California city that said its factory's smells were unbearable.

The Irwindale City Council voted Wednesday night to drop a public nuisance declaration and lawsuit against Huy Fong Foods, makers of Sriracha hot sauce. The dual moves brought an effective end to the spicy-air dispute that had Sriracha devotees worried about future sauce shortages and had suitors including the state of Texas offering Huy Fong a friendlier home.

The closed-session council vote was unanimous with one councilman abstaining due to a conflict of interest, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported.

Residents and business leaders praised the vote that some called overdue.

"Thank you so much for saving Irwindale because we were headed in the wrong direction," Irwindale Fred Barbosa, who lives in Irwindale, told the Tribune after the vote.

Bob Machuca of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. said the resolution showed California is "open for business" and is "what we needed to do a long time ago."

The city of about 1,400 people had been at odds with the company, which recently moved its main operations there, after residents complained last year of spicy odours burned their throats and eyes.

It wasn't immediately clear what prompted the council change its position, but the company had been asking the city for more time as it worked with regional air-quality officials on a plan to make the smell go away.

But city officials met behind closed doors Tuesday with company CEO David Tran and representatives of Gov. Jerry Brown's Business and Economic Development Office. Afterward Mayor Mark Breceda said he would ask the council to end the fight.

"We forged a relationship," City Councilman Julian Miranda said Wednesday night. "Let's keep that going."

Tran, an immigrant from Vietnam whose company produces several chili sauces based on the flavours of his native country, said Tuesday that he installed stronger filters at the plant, and he's confident they will block fumes when the chili-grinding season begins in August.

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