EVANSVILLE, Ind (WEHT) — UPDATE 08/05: In a press release, the Evansville Fire Departments saus “after further discussion with employees our Investigator was told the fire started in a blower motor which is part of the production process and part of one of the machines they use. It was not an exhaust fan as we were initially told.”
The Evansville Fire Department worked quickly to contain a massive fire at Green Tree Plastics on East Virginia that broke out around 1 p.m.
Authorities say what began as a small fire from what they believe was an exhaust fan quickly spread to a pile of plastic pellets that led to massive flames that could be seen all the way from the Twin Bridges. *NOTE: This story has been updated to show this cause has been changed.
At one point, the firefighters also had to be evacuated because the flames became too intense and the front wall and roof collapsed.
Around ten workers were inside and they tried using a fire extinguisher, but the flames grew quickly and the owner of the business told them to get out. Everyone made it out safely and there were no injuries.
“With the roof collapsed on it it’s actually covering up some of those plastics that are still burning underneath. The design of a roof is to keep water out so it makes it actually quite difficult to get inside there and get that put out,” said EFD Division Chief Mike Larson.
Authorities say they were concerned about the fire spreading to businesses nearby. One wall ended up being the difference between this being a single or multiple structure fire, as the right wall remained standing, blocking River City Taxi Company next door from also being set on fire.
“Thankfully, I had been giving a warning of what was happening and it was much better than what I had been told and I am just very thankful to the Evansville Fire Department because they saved our building today,” said Heather Williams.
Authorities say a few embers from the fire did hit the roof of the taxi company but that the building didn’t appear to be damaged. Williams said her family’s business will be reaching out to those at Green Tree Plastics to see what they can do to help them.
“Hopefully they can get back on their feet, with all the pandemic it makes it an even harder hit for any of this to happen,” said Williams.
The owner of Green Tree Plastics says he believes the connected office side of the business was saved and he’s hopeful they can resume operations in some capacity as soon as tomorrow.
(This story was originally published on Aug. 4, 2020)