More than 2,000 people told to evacuate after inferno engulfs Indiana plastic recycling plant spewing a huge cloud of toxic black smoke visible 20 miles away – as officials warn it will burn for DAYS
- A tractor-trailer caught fire in Richmond, Indiana, and spread to a plastics facility
- More than 2,000 people within a half-mile radius were asked to evacuate
- A huge plume of black smoke was visible from more than 20 miles away
An enormous inferno at a plastic manufacturing facility in Indiana sent a huge plume of black smoke into the sky as more than 2,000 residents were ordered to evacuate their homes.
The blaze, which is expected to keep burning for days, was caused by a tractor-trailer truck that caught fire, which in turn set alight a nearby building that was storing plastic and recycled materials.
The fire broke out at around 2.40pm on Tuesday in Richmond, between Indianapolis and Dayton, and engulfed the entire facility and the cloud of black smoke was visible from more than 20 miles away.
A warning from Wayne County Emergency Management issued just before 4pm ordered the evacuation of people within half a mile of the fire.
Those downwind of the fire to the east and northeast outside the half a mile radius were ordered to shelter in place. ‘Turn off HVAC units, keep windows and doors closed, and bring pets inside until advised further,’ read the warning.
A large fire at a plastic manufacturing facility in Indiana forced more than 2,000 residents to evacuate their homes on Tuesday afternoon
The black smoke was visible from more than 20 miles away. This photo was uploaded by a Twitter user who said they were in nearby Connersville
As of nearly 7pm the fire was contained on three of its four sides at the site of 358 NW F Street, according to Richmond mayor Dave Snow. He said it was unlikely the evacuation order would be lifted before the morning.
‘We have a serious, large-scale fire with a very thick plume of black smoke in the air,’ Richmond Mayor Dave Snow said. ‘Buses are being utilized to evacuate residents who need it.’
‘The smoke is definitely toxic,’ said the Indiana State Fire Marshall on scene according to Fox 59. ‘This fire is going to burn for a few days,’ he added.
Richmond Police Chief Mike Britt called the situation ‘a huge public hazard’ and asked people to stay away.
‘We’ve had quite the problem with bystanders moving in close to the fire,’ he said.
‘This has been an explosion hazard since the first flames. We’ve had numerous explosions. Please try to restrain yourself,’ he added.
The blaze was caused by a tractor-trailer truck that caught fire, which in turn set alight a nearby building that was storing plastic and recycled materials
As of nearly 7pm the fire was contained on three of its four sides at the site of 358 NW F Street, according to Richmond mayor Dave Snow
‘You shouldn’t have to get up close to this fire to see it. You can see it from several miles away. Bear in mind and have the common courtesy that, if you’re inside the hot zone and one of my people has to go in and get you out, that’s two people at risk.’
The Director of Wayne County Emergency Management, Matthew Cain said in a report smoke was first reported before 3pm.
According to the Richmond Fire Department’s Battalion Chief, ‘all hands are on deck.’
Bethesda Worship Center offered temporary shelter for people forced out of their homes while other agencies were trying to arrange hotel rooms if necessary.
Snow wrote that the fire department had received enough donations to ‘get through this event’ but thanked everyone who had offered support.
Those within half a mile of the plastics facility were asked to evacuate
The National Weather Service shared images of the smoke detected by radar and satellite images
One person reported that debris was falling in their backyard around 10 miles from the fire
Some residents took to Twitter to share images of the fire and one person reported debris falling in their backyard. Some debris from the fire has fell ten miles from the sire of the fire in New Paris, Ohio, according to local outlet WRTV.
The National Weather Service shared images of the smoke detected by radar and satellite images.
Snow said the Environmental Protection Agency and Indiana Department of Environmental Management are on site and evaluating any potential hazards resulting from the fire.
Richmond is a border town between Indiana and Ohio. In February a fire broke out when a train derailed in the border town East Palestine, between Ohio and Pennsylvania, exposing thousands of residents to toxic chemicals.