EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — Cleanup efforts continue today on Virginia Street where part of Green Tree Plastics burned down Tuesday. The Evansville Fire Department says two of their trucks were also damaged while responding to the fire.
The first truck suffered heat damage on the rear lights from being in close proximity to to the fire. The second truck damaged was the fire truck dedicated to the late Captain James Pauli Jr. Authorities tell Eyewitness News a woman distracted by the smoke and flames wasn’t watching where she was going and ran into the side of the engine, damaging a step on the passenger side door.
While the traffic accident was minor, EFD Division Chief Mike Larson says he hopes it will be a lesson learned for the community and a reminder to use extra caution around emergency vehicles.
“It’s no different than texting and driving. Pay attention to the road. We’re lucky the truck didn’t stop and somebody wasn’t getting off the truck and maybe the firefighter would’ve gotten run over and maybe more seriously injured,” said Larson.
On the scene, firefighters also had a close call battling the flames. Walls and the ceiling of the building caved down, sending embers into the air.
“When the wall fell on that north side, it was very early into the fire and this was a hot very rapidly changing situation. Fortunately, our instant commander and the staff there recognized what was happening and they pulled our firefighters out,” said Larson. Officials say no firefighters were injured.
Crews were on scene for more than six hours working to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby businesses, including semi trucks parked nearby at Berry Plastics.
“Depending on what whatever product could’ve been in those trailers, we could’ve had a much different scenario had our guys not been in the position that they were to do as good a job as they did,” said Larson.
Authorities initially reported an exhaust fan may have caused the fire but after more investigating, they now believe it was a blower motor that is used in the production process.