‘Fire crews and officials from county health and hazardous materials teams are continuing work in the aftermath of a massive fire at a tire warehouse in Morgan Twp.
Crews first responded at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to the Wholesale Tire Mart at 4954 Alert New London Road. The fire burned overnight, and smoke could be seen for many miles.
Firefighting apparatus from other jurisdictions including Hamilton and Reily Twp. are on the scene preparing to fully douse the fire that has still been flaring up. Early this morning, it was thought they would have to pull the roof off entirely to attack the blaze within the building.
“They’ve already got a collapse so they’ve got some heavy machinery coming in and they’re going to start moving some of the walls and the roof and then they’re going to start applying the foam,” Harrison Fire Chief Rob Hursong said at the scene.
Christina Whitlock lives in the house right next door to burning building. She said she got home from work at around 8:30 p.m. to “all the mayhem.” They were evacuated last night but allowed back in this morning.
“It was really scary,” she said. “The flames were huge and explosions that were happening were the most scary part.”
The fire department let the fire go overnight to burn off the dangerous chemicals inside the building that could be released. Hursong said the Board of Health and HAZMAT team have been monitoring air quality and “as of now, there’s no concern for that.”
“The smoke is still dangerous, they’re letting some of that burn, but they believe they are at a point now, from what the HAZMAT guys are telling them, they can go ahead and try to smother this thing,” Hursong said.
If the monitors indicate trouble, the chief said they will evacuate the area or order people to shelter in place.
As of 8 a.m. this morning, Morgan Twp. Fire Chief Jeff Galloway said crews would likely need to remove the roof to work on the building.
“We can’t do any foaming or anything like that until we get the roof off the building,” Galloway told the Journal-News this morning. “We’re working with (the insurance company) to get some heavy machinery in here to pull the roof and all that back so we can start a foaming operation.”
He said crews were continuing to mop up chemicals that have leaked out of the building and into a nearby creek.
The fire is “still burning real good and you can still see it from probably a long way aways,” Galloway said Wednesday morning. “It’s going to be burning until we can get the roof off the building and down to the fires.”
He said they are monitoring air quality and “right now the wind is in our favor,” so there is no danger to those nearby.
Galloway said his department was familiar with Wholesale Tire Mart. The tire dealer and repair shop stores thousands of industrial tires as well as flammable chemicals so crews perform a safety walkthrough each year.