A major fire at an Indiana recycling facility forced thousands of evacuations this week, bringing back memories of the aftermath of the February East Palestine, Ohio train derailment.
The fire broke out in Richmond, a city of 35,000 residents near the Ohio border.
An Indiana Fire Marshal Steve Jones said that the smoke “is definitely toxic” and that the “fire is going to burn for a few days.”
The resulting fire has forced more than 2,000 people to evacuate their homes.
The smoke could be seen across the state border. No injuries have been reported so far.
Wayne County evacuated a half-mile radius around the facility and told residents to keep their “windows and doors closed” and to turn off their air conditioning if they draw outside air. The county also ordered residents to keep their pets inside.
The city of Richmond brought in a bus to help residents evacuate.
Mayor Dave Snow said that he was “staying in contact” with the local emergency services “and will continue to relay information as it is available.”
We are continuing operations through overnight hours. A bus will remain available for evacuation needs. I am staying in contact with our Fire Department, Police Department, and Wayne County Emergency Management Agency, and will continue to relay information as it is available.
— Dave Snow (@mayordavesnow) April 12, 2023
Mayor Snow also said that the plant was a fire hazard. He said that the plant’s operators “were under a city order to clean up and remediate that site.”
Local schools were canceled on Wednesday. School faculty was barred from entering campus grounds during the crisis.
The facility was previously cited by the local government even before the blaze.
The local fire chief, Tim Brown, told Fox News that the plant had previously received a notice for an “unsafe building and unsafe grounds.”
Furthermore, the fire chief said that the Richmond Fire Department had anticipated a major fire at some point. Chief Brown said that the building was packed with a “floor to ceiling, wall to wall” amount of plastics, including several truck trailers.
“It wasn’t if, it’s just when,” he said.
In addition, reflecting the mayor, the chief said that the city requested the building be cleaned up.
While the blaze is expected to keep burning for several days, no firm estimate has been announced.