By Paul Ploumis (ScrapMonster Author)
August 12, 2016 10:29:42 PM
Columbus firefighters battled a four-alarm fire at a recycling center on the South Side into Friday night. Officials advised nearby residents to stay indoors and avoid breathing in the smoke.
TOLEDO (Scrap Monster): Columbus firefighters battled a four-alarm fire at a recycling center on the South Side into Friday night. Officials advised nearby residents to stay indoors and avoid breathing in the smoke.
The fire started at about 4:25 p.m. Friday and spread to multiple spots at the WestRock Recycling Center site at 1015 Marion Road, said Battalion Chief Steve Martin. No injuries were reported as of 8 p.m. At one point, Martin estimated that 3 to 4 acres of materials were burning.
"There is no reason to believe that there's anything special about this smoke" that would make it more toxic than that from a house fire, Martin said. A variety of recyclable materials burned: paper, wood, plastic, rubber, paint and fuel. Neighbors were encouraged to take shelter, close windows and turn off air conditioners, which draw air from outside, he said.
Some residents were leaving the area to avoid breathing the smoke.
Martin predicted that firefighters would be working all night.
"We just have to keep drenching it," he said.
As of about 6 p.m., the Fire Division had more than 100 firefighters, 20 engines, six ladders and four rescues on the scene.
The city's South Side is notorious for these kinds of fires. Neighborhood activists have complained for years that many of those recycling centers are allowed to stack material that could catch on fire.
Columbus Fire Division records show nine fires at the PSC Metals site, 2205 Parsons Ave., since 2011. Two occurred this year on April 3 and June 6.
On May 1, 2015, a huge fire destroyed a recycling center at 611 Marion Road. That blaze, caused by a worker's discarded cigarette, ripped through the 13-acre site and caused $8 million in damage. Three businesses recycled paper, plastic and wood pallets there.
But Martin said WestRock was doing things right, leaving 20-foot lanes between piles of material that made it easy for firefighters to reach hot spots.
"Everything is great at WestRock," he said. "They've done everything right, and they are working closely with us."
Andre Hughes stood outside his home on Linwood Avenue two blocks from WestRock on Friday evening. He shook his head at the thick smoke rolling from the plant and the ash falling all over the place.
"Sure, I'm tired of all these fires," he said.
Martin said the windblown ash was not hot. Still, Hughes was worried about it contaminating his vegetable garden.
"I work hard to keep it nice," he said.