A huge fire at an industrial site filled with various types of plastics has been extinguished ahead of schedule, a little over two days after the fire began.
In a statement on social media, Richmond Mayor Dave Snow said that the city’s fire department “is to be highly commended for their brave and swift action.” He said that now officials could collect air and water samples to determine when the evacuation order can be lifted.
“Our goal is to get people back into their homes as soon as possible,” he said.
The blaze began Tuesday afternoon as multiple fires at the 14-acre industrial site and spread, creating a column of black smoke that was visible for miles as well as on weather radar.
Between 1,500 and 2,000 people who live in a half-mile of the plant were told to leave after the fire began, according to David Hosick, spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security speaking to the Associated Press.
People downwind of the fire were advised to shelter in place, bringing pets inside, closing windows and turning off A/C.
City officials said that the fire was fully contained Wednesday evening, but still was burning overnight and during the day on Thursday.
Indiana’s state fire marshal, Steve Jones, told the AP on Tuesday “the smoke is definitely toxic” and residents need to get away from the smoke plumes, especially elderly people with respiratory problems. He said that if the wind changes, officials may alter the evacuation order.
The industrial site was used to store various kinds of plastic for recycling and resale, the AP said, adding that the mayor said the site had been under a city order to clean up and remediate the complex, but the business owner had ignored that order.
Snow called that person “a negligent business owner.”
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