On Tuesday afternoon, a massive fire erupted at a recycling plant located in Wayne County, Indiana. Immediately, more than 2,000 residents within a half-mile radius of the facility were issued with an evacuation order because of the threat posed by noxious smoke.
Indiana Fire Marshal Stephen Jones warned people to keep away from the area and emphasized how dangerous it could be to inhale the fumes produced by the blaze. In addition, a firefighter – responding to the scene – suffered an injury after tumbling down a ravine and was taken to a nearby medical facility.
Containment of the fire was successful, however its effects are expected to linger for the next few days. Richmond Mayor Dave Snow expressed his frustration at the incident, referring to it as a “worst-case scenario”, and urged locals to shield themselves from the black smoke as much as possible.
It is believed that Aaron Stevens, a Richmond resident who resides in the evacuation zone, saw the fire first-hand, describing “huge pillar of smoke” and hearing “explosions and pops” from his home. He stated that he already has made plans to evacuate in the event of an emergency. Brad Walton, a second Richmond resident situated five miles away, stated that he could smell burning tires and could see the smoke plume from Hamilton, Ohio, a town 35 miles away.
CTy the Wayne County Emergency Management office is taking steps to ensure the safety of the community by carrying out air monitoring within the vicinity.
The cause of the fire is still unknown at this time, however it is known that the plant – where the fire began – reprocesses plastics and recyclables.