A massive fire at an Indiana recycling facility has forced thousands to evacuate after it spewed clouds of toxic black smoke into the air.
The fire broke out at a former factory site, about 175,000 square feet, that was currently being used to store recycled plastics in the city of Richmond, located on the Ohio border about 70 miles east of Indianapolis.
Investigators currently believe the fire broke out in a semi-trailer loaded with plastics, before spreading into the facility which was stacked ‘wall-to-wall’ with more plastics.
Indiana State Fire Marshal Steve Jones said the fumes from the blaze were ‘definitely toxic’ at a press conference on Tuesday.
‘There’s a host of different chemicals plastics give off when they’re on fire,’ he said.
No injuries have been reported as of Wednesday morning, but the city ordered evacuations for homes within a half-mile radius of the facility. About 2,000 people have been evacuated.
The evacuation area may change if wind patterns change before the fire is extinguished, officials said. Winds have already blown some of the toxic fumes across the border into Ohio.
Part of the facility is owned by the city, but most was owned by a private business owner, who had multiple citations for improper storage, officials said.
Footage of a massive industrial fire in the city of Richmond, Indiana, located west of Dayton. Winds reportedly began carrying the smoke into Ohio around 4 p.m. Tuesday https://t.co/jJsqyzA9BG pic.twitter.com/2SSWyQLe1C
‘They were under a city order to clean up and remediate that site,’ Richmond Mayor Dave Snow said. ‘We knew that was a fire hazard the way they were storing materials.’
‘He had been warned several times,’ Richmond Fire Chief Tim Brown told Fox 59. ‘We knew it wasn’t a matter of it, it was a matter of when.’
At another press conference on Tuesday, city officials blamed the fire on the
‘The business owner is responsible for this mess,’ Snow said. ‘This person has been negligent and irresponsible, and it’s led to putting a lot of people in danger.’
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