RICHMOND, Ind. — Evacuation orders have been issued for Richmond residents who live within a half mile of a roaring industrial fire.
A large plume can be seen belching black smoke into the sky above Richmond from a fire that broke out at an industrial site located at 358 NW F Street in Richmond.
Media partners report that the facility is a former lawn mower manufacturer that has been closed for years and is now used for storage.
Richmond Mayor Dave Snow said the facility is used for recycling and stores plastic and other material.
“The smoke is definitely toxic,” said Steve Jones, the Indiana State Fire Marshall on scene.
“This fire is going to burn for a few days,” Jones added.
The fire is contained, according to officials, and did not jump to residential areas nearby.
“The fire was fully involved,” Richmond Fire Chief Tim Brown said. “It was fully loaded with unknown types of plastics. Filled wall to wall.”
Chief Brown said that the owner of the building where the fire started had previously received an “unsafe citation” about stacking plastic in the area.
“He has been warned several times,” Brown said. “I don’t know when exactly that was, but we were aware of the situation we were dealing with.”
Brown added that the facility is “massive” and has an area of about 175,000 square feet. He also said that this fire may have been preventable.
“It is very frustrating for all of us,” Brown said. “The battalion chief on today was very frustrated when he pulled up because we knew it wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when this was going to happen.”
A mix of homes and businesses are located near the recycling facility.
Residents within a half mile of the fire are asked to evacuate by the Wayne County Emergency Management Agency.
Wayne County EMA said Richmond residents further than a half mile from the fire should shelter in place, meaning residents should turn off HVAC units and keep windows and doors closed. Pets should also be brought inside.
“Stay safe, stay clear of the area,” Snow said.
As of 9 p.m., Wayne County EMA said that over 2,000 people have evacuated the area.
The Environmental Protection Agency and Indiana Department of Environmental Management are on scene and assessing.
All after-school activities have been canceled due to the large fire, according to Richmond Community Schools.
No serious injuries have been reported. Mayor Snow said fire departments from nearby communities have been called in to help.
“The scope of the fire is our biggest issue,” Snow said.
One firefighter is said to have injured his ankle after falling down a ravine while combating the fire. He has been treated and released.
At this time, there is no timeline for how long it will take to put out the massive fire.
Those in need of assistance are asked to call (765) 973-9399.
Bethesda Ministries, located at 2200 Peacock Road, is serving as a temporary shelter, according to Wayne County EMA. Additionally, another shelter opened around 9:30 p.m. at the Oak Park Pentecostal Church, located at 1920 Chester Blvd.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.