Debris from toxic Richmond fire lands in Preble County, cancels weekend car show

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

This weekend’s alumni car show at National Trail Schools postponed to July.

Debris from the toxic Richmond, Indiana, industrial fire that burned for days last week reached portions of Preble County, including National Trail Local Schools property.

The plume of thick black smoke traveled for miles and could be seen on radar after two warehouses used by My Way Trading containing a large amount of chipped, shredded and bulk recycled plastic caught fire the afternoon of April 11.

“There has been debris at the school, Jefferson Twp. and in New Paris,” said Preble County Emergency Management Agency Director Suzy Cottingim.

Crews from the U.S. Environmental Protection agency this week will be finished with clearing debris from priority locations, such as the school, campgrounds, parks, cemeteries and also preschool and daycare centers, she said.

Some debris samples tested positive for asbestos. The naturally occurring but dangerous substance once widely used for insulation can become trapped in the body when inhaled or ingested. Exposure may cause mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

“That’s why they are taking all precautions and doing what they can to ensure people’s safety,” Cottingim said.

Residential cleanup should begin next week for those who found debris in their yards. Cottingim said there is a short list of people who have requested cleanup and submitted a consent form.

Anyone who spots debris should not touch it or mow over it, she said.

The 11th annual National Trail Alumni Car Show originally scheduled for this weekend has been postponed because of the debris situation, said Ken Rodefer, one of the event organizers.

“Rather than wait and not know, we decided we’d postpone it to a later date,” he said.

The new date is July 8. Registration is from 10 a.m. to noon and awards start at 3 p.m. Rain date is July 9. The event will feature food trucks and a DJ, and proceeds go to National Trail scholarships.

The goal is to have 200 cars participate this year in the show that typically draws anywhere from 80 to 180 cars and 300 to 600 people depending on weather, Rodefer said.

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