Indiana Industrial Fire To Continue Burning, Releasing Toxic Smoke And Ash For Days

April 13, 2023
3 Comments
Youtbue Screenshot of the Fire in Richmond, IN

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A "serious, large-scale," almost apocalyptic industrial fire has been billowing toxic smoke into the blue skies over Richmond, Indiana, since Tuesday when a defunct recycling center caught fire. The flames, smoke, and dangerous debris have also forced the evacuation of more than 2,000 residents from the surrounding area.

Late Tuesday evening the fire was reportedly contained but not extinguished. The Wayne County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), however, announced in an update that the fire will continue burning and producing smoke, soot, and ash for several days due to the nature of the fire and what was burning.

The fire, located at the former Hoffco factory in Richmond, 70 miles east of Indianapolis, started when plastics and other materials being stored at the factory ignited. The factory ceased operations in 2009.

Authorities evacuated residents within a half mile of the fire and urged those outside of the evacuation zone to shelter in place and turn off their HVAC unites, close all windows and doors, and bring pets inside.

While residents have taken to posting photos of debris from the fire on social media, authorities have cautioned against touching any debris, as it is unknown at this time what chemicals may have contaminated the debris.

It has been difficult for officials to predict what kind of health concerns may arise from the fire as no one knows what exactly had burned.

Health issues that the Wayne County EMA mentioned in an alert included, irritated skin, shortness of breath, and irritated or burning eyes. Individuals with respiratory issues were encouraged to evacuate or seek medical attention if their breathing problems worsened.

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While no injuries have been reported thus far, the Indiana State Fire Marshall did issue a warning that the smoke was "definitely toxic."

"This fire is going to burn for a few days," the state fire marshall added.

A tweet from Richmond Mayor Dave Snow Tuesday evening said that operations would continue into the night and that a bus would remain available to assist with evacuations. Snow also posted a map of the evacuation zone.

The city had been concerned about the site since 2019 when concerns arose that it could pose a fire hazard due to the way the materials inside were stored.

According to reports from Zerohedge, the fire started in a tractor-trailer that was parked on-site and quickly spread to the rest of the facility. The cause of the fire remains unknown. Multiple units responded in an effort to contain the blaze.

While westerly winds blew the billowing black smoke east into Ohio, Bethesda Worship Center in Richmond opened its doors to provide temporary shelter for people forced to evacuate, while additional agencies worked to arrange hotel rooms for displaced residents.

Unlike the toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio in February, state and federal regulators and officials are already on site to assess air quality and other environmental concerns. In East Palestine, residents were told that the derailment and the subsequent explosion did not warrant the deployment of FEMA or other federal agencies and resources.

The fire has been contained to the city's northwest corner with all efforts being made to prevent it from spreading to the eastern side of the city.

According to the Wayne County EMA, the investigation into the cause of the fire and other factors would take several weeks and involve multiple agencies.

Meanwhile, residents, city officials, and federal authorities are all calling for the business owner to be held accountable for the fire and all related damages.

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Jen Snow

Jen Snow is a former paralegal turned freelance writer who has a passion for foreign affairs. When not writing, she can be found curled up with her dog and a good book or outside playing in the Florida sun.
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    Plastic People

    Cyanide, PCB's, Dioxin's just to name a few of the chemicals. Let's not forget the un countable polymeric long chain garbage that will be in there too.

    Yes it is going to burn for probably a week. Once you light plastics that hard, they just go and go and go. They really at that point, should be combatted as a Class D and buried to extinguish.

    I bet a bum living in the trailer sparked it.

    You gonna eat that?

    Sounds like the company did like most of these recyclers have done. Once the subsidies run to term they pack up and leave. Traveling around the country I see it everywhere. There has never been a market for plastic recyclables or paper/cardboard and glass to support them financially without major injections of taxpayer dollars and increased user fees. The whole recycling movement was a scam from the beginning. The materials that are profitable were always recycled like iron/steel. It was a pretty picture painted by a few that fooled many including myself when I was still in grade school. After talking with numerous people in the business over the years I finally realized what a scam it really is.

    Richmond is the unwiped rectum of Indiana ... and always has been ...

    From the loss of Bucyrus Erie, Mercury Records, to the burnings of Delson Cox, Sr., and Edward "Corky" Cordell to this mass abandoment without consequence ...

    Nothing like Lodges running the show to further contaminate the sewer .. at the swamp rat's expense ...

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