FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - The images of the massive fire Sunday at Momper Insulation are still in the minds of many. But, the scene looked much different Wednesday as big excavators work to remove all the charred debris.
"We have a lot of stuff to haul out. There were over 42 vehicles in the building and we're trying to get them out and bring the debris out," Ron Lunz, president of Lunz Excavating Inc., said.
Lunz has been in the excavating business for more than 30 years and said while cleaning up after the Momper fire isn't the biggest job he's ever had, it ranks up near the top.
It took several days to get the fire all the way out, but Wednesday crews could finally start to haul away what was left. The metal will be recycled at Omni Source and Hoosier Metal and the trash debris will go to National Serv-All.
A big pile of insulation debris will stay in the lot for several more days, though. Lunz said they want to be extra sure there aren't any embers hiding that could reignite at the landfill. Lunz said they are only required to let it sit for 48 hours.
"We'll leave it sit until probably Monday and then we'll be sure. And the fire department is spraying water on it so we don't have any fly around, so we're keeping it moist," Lunz said.
The biggest challenge with cleaning up this fire scene is getting the metal untangled.
"When you have a metal building and it falls down, all the bar joists are welded to the I-beams and all the decking is welded to metal and then you have bridging metal that goes through it to keep it from twisting, so it's just been welded together with a lot of welding and with a machine it takes a little bit to get it ripped apart," Lunz said.
Tow trucks were also loading up the charred skeletons of trucks. Crews found another truck inside the building on Wednesday and an excavator had to bring it out.
"They are so burned and there are no tires on them so everything has got to be hauled," Lunz said.
Also on Wednesday, fire investigators went inside what was left of the office area to search one last time for any clues that could lead to a cause. But, investigators said a cause may never be known because the fire burned really hot for so long.
While crews clean up the mess at Momper Insulation, city crews are working to clean water contaminated by the fire water runoff.
Swinney Park is closed while the water in Junk Ditch is filtered. Wednesday the filter pumps were starting to be installed. Bernie Beier, the director of Homeland Security in Fort Wayne, said the pumps likely won't be running at full capacity until late Thursday afternoon.
The water tested in Junk Ditch had high levels of cyanide in it. A giant activated charcoal filter will get the cyanide out. The filtered water will then go to the city sewage treatment plant to be cleaned again before it's dumped back into the rivers.
"This will be the cleanest ditch water in town," Beier said.
Beier added that it's important to get the cyanide down to an extremely low level before it goes to the treatment plant because the biosolids used to treat water at the plant can be killed by cyanide.
Once the filter starts running, it will keep going 24 hours a day until all the water has been cleaned. Beier said early estimates put the job at lasting 13 days. He hopes to pump the water faster than that though because significant rainfall is expected to move into the area next week.
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