A massive fire has engulfed what appears to be a plastic storage facility, which firefighters say will burn for days
A fire at an industrial complex in Richmond, Indiana has led to an evacuation order for about 2,000 residents within a half-mile radius of the blaze due to thick toxic smoke emanating from the installation.
US media suggest the fire started after 2 p.m. local time on Tuesday at a former lawnmower manufacturing plant that had been closed for years and used to store various types of plastics.
Richmond Fire Chief Tim Brown says the fire appears to have originated from a semi-trailer truck containing “Unknown Plastic Types” and then spread to six other nearby buildings that were also part of the compound. He noted that the fire was now under control and that other buildings or residential areas were not at risk of catching fire.
Brown said local firefighters knew the facility was a fire hazard and the owner had been warned about the violation of fire safety protocols on multiple occasions.
“It wasn’t a question of if, it was a question of when it was going to happen,” Brown told reporters at the scene, adding that the facility, which measures approximately 175,000 square feet, was “completely complete, from floor to ceiling and wall to wall” with plastics.
Indiana State Fire Marshal Steve Jones, who spoke alongside Brown, said that while the fire had been brought under control, “It will burn for a few days.” He added that the smoke emanating from the facility, which can be seen for miles, “is definitely toxic” and could contain “a multitude of different chemicals.”
Jones noted that evacuation orders will remain in place for a few days and could be extended if wind conditions change. He also encouraged residents downwind of the evacuation zone to stay indoors.
The incident comes amid a series of massive fires at various industrial facilities, as well as a number of trail derailments across the United States in recent months.
One of the most significant incidents occurred in Ohio in February, when a freight train operated by Norfolk Southern derailed near the eastern Palestinian town, spilling millions of gallons of dangerous chemicals and causing a massive fire. State officials say the air and water are now safe for residents, but some residents said they felt unwell as a result of the crash.
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