Tuesday, some residents of Richmond, Indiana, were compelled to evacuate their residences to avoid exposure to “certainly toxic” fumes caused by an industrial fire.
WXIN reported that Richmond Mayor Dave Snow stated that the fire broke out in a building that once produced lawnmowers but is now used to hold plastics and other recyclable materials.
Residents within a half mile of the facility were urged to evacuate to sanctuaries staffed by the Red Cross and other volunteers at Bethesda Ministries or Oak Park Pentecostal Church.
Please see attached map of evacuation zone. pic.twitter.com/mnDbZtu8ox
— Dave Snow (@mayordavesnow) April 11, 2023
We are continuing operations through overnight hours. A bus will remain available for evacuation needs. I am staying in contact with our Fire Department, Police Department, and Wayne County Emergency Management Agency, and will continue to relay information as it is available.
— Dave Snow (@mayordavesnow) April 12, 2023
Indiana State Fire Marshal Steve Jones stated at the site that the blaze was anticipated to last “a few days.”
The proprietor of the facility was previously cited for the hazardous storage of plastics, according to Richmond Fire Chief Tim Brown.
“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.”
“It is very frustrating for all of us,” he added. “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.”
He described the 175,000-square-foot facility as “massive” and “filled wall to wall” with “unknown types of plastics.”
— Brian Wilkes (@BrianWilkes59wx) April 11, 2023
“The smoke is definitely toxic,” Jones, the fire marshal, told WXIN. “This fire is going to burn for a few days.”
Tuesday evening at 9:00, the Wayne County Emergency Management Agency reported that approximately 2,000 individuals had evacuated the area.
Residents downstream of the fire but more than half a mile from its origin were advised to bring their pets inside and seek shelter.
WXIN reported that the fire caused no significant injuries, but Snow stated that fire departments from neighboring communities had been requested to assist. Environmental Protection Agency and Indiana Department of Environmental Management representatives were also reportedly present.