HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) – A massive fire at a recycling plant in Richmond, IN resulted in the evacuation of over 2000 residents from their homes on Tuesday.
Large plumes of black smoke could be seen in the sky above the plant as the fire quickly spread, and images were caught from above by National Weather Service satellites.
The facility is used to process recyclables, including plastics, which led to concerns about air safety from chemicals released when plastics burn. More than 2000 residents surrounding the plant were told to evacuate their homes, and those outside of the who could see the smoke rising in the air were urged to shelter in place with HVAC units off.
Richmond Fire Chief Tim Brown confirmed that there were large amounts of plastic being stored inside, “There was a semi-trailer at the rear of the structure that was fully involved. It was full of plastics. The semi-trailer had plastics piled up against it. And then there was piles of plastic all around.”
The EPA and Indiana Department of Environmental Management came in to test the air quality as fire crews brought in heavy machinery overnight to help get around the semis and piles of plastics blocking their access.
Chief Brown says the fire could burn for days.
“We’re probably going to be here at least two to three days with the melted plastics.”
Shelters in Richmond are now open, and the city’s bus system is assisting with transporting those who were displaced to the shelters.