NATIONAL NEWS

Chief: Indiana plastics fire reduced to a single hot spot

Apr 15, 2023, 12:50 PM

Firefighters pour water on an industrial fire in Richmond, Ind., Thursday, April 13, 2023. Multiple...

Firefighters pour water on an industrial fire in Richmond, Ind., Thursday, April 13, 2023. Multiple fires that began burning Tuesday afternoon were still burning within about 14 acres of various types of plastics stored inside and outside buildings at the former factory site. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

RICHMOND, Ind. (AP) — Fire crews working to fully extinguish an Indiana plastics fire have reduced its smoldering areas to a single hot spot, a fire chief said Saturday as officials prepared to decide if a dayslong evacuation order should be lifted.

Richmond Fire Chief Tim Brown said crews will remain at the 14-acre (5-hectare) former factory site through the weekend, watching the sole hot spot remaining from the fire, which was declared under control Thursday night when the last flames were extinguished.

He said fire officials will meet Monday morning to decide what their next steps will be at the site, where tons of recycled plastic stored for resale caught fire Tuesday. The site is in Richmond, about 70 miles (115 kilometers) east of Indianapolis, near the Ohio border.

“Other than that one hot spot, I consider this contained, controlled and 99% out,” Brown told The Associated Press on Saturday afternoon.

Mayor Dave Snow said Friday that experts would meet Saturday to discuss air quality and other environmental issues related to the fire, all needed before lifting an evacuation order for a half-mile (1 kilometer) radius of the site. At least 1,500 people live in the evacuation zone, though it’s not known how many residents actually obeyed the call to get out after the fire began Tuesday afternoon.

Christine Stinson, director of the Wayne County health department, said she would meet Saturday evening with environmental experts to receive and discuss the latest air sampling results before making a recommendation to Brown about whether the evacuation order can be lifted.

“Until I have those air monitoring samples back we’re not going to be making any recommendations. We’re turning to the experts to help us advise the public,” she said. “We’ll be making an announcement, one way or another.”

Stinson said that announcement was expected to be posted on a website the city set up to provide residents with updates on the fire.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said hydrogen cyanide and benzene were detected at the fire site. EPA contractors planned to collect fire debris over the weekend that landed near schools or in parks and private yards. At least one sample has tested positive for asbestos, which can harm lungs.

The fire’s cause was not known. But it quickly became an inferno, destroying six run-down buildings holding recycled plastic and creating clouds of smoke so high and dark they cast a sprawling shadow over the city of 35,000 people.

The man operating the storage site was under a 2020 court order to clean up the site, which had no utilities and had been declared a serious fire hazard by inspectors. Richmond officials said they had barred him from accepting more plastics while he was working to get rid of the vast holdings.

National News

Associated Press

Probe finds carelessness caused Jewish student group’s omission from New Jersey high school yearbook

An investigation into how and why a Jewish student group was erased from a New Jersey high school yearbook found the omission was caused by negligence and carelessness, but was not done on purpose or out of malice, the school district announced Wednesday. East Brunswick Public Schools hired a law firm to investigate after the […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Shooting in Philadelphia wounds 7 people, police say

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Seven people were wounded Wednesday evening in a shooting in Philadelphia, police said. The shooting happened just before 6:30 p.m. in North Philadelphia. The victims include a 19-year-old man who was shot in the leg, a 31-year-old woman shot in the hand, a 23-year-old man shot in the buttock, and two women […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Boaters find $1 million of cocaine floating off Florida Keys

MIAMI (AP) — Recreational boaters found $1 million worth of cocaine floating in the ocean off the Florida Keys. Samuel Briggs II, the acting chief patrol agent of the U.S. Border Patrol, wrote about the find in a social media post on X. Briggs posted video Monday night showing the wrapped packages of cocaine being […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Police credit New Yorkers for suspect’s arrest in the rape of a 13-year-old girl

NEW YORK (AP) — Residents of a New York City neighborhood were praised for their role in the arrest of an Ecuadorian accused of raping a 13-year-old girl, a crime that the city’s police commissioner said “shocked our entire city.” Christian Geovanny Inga-Landi, 25, was arrested early Tuesday outside a deli in Corona, Queens. He […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

New law requires all Louisiana public school classrooms to display the Ten Commandments

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana has become the first state to require that the Ten Commandments be displayed in every public school classroom, the latest move from a GOP-dominated Legislature pushing a conservative agenda under a new governor. The legislation that Republican Gov. Jeff Landry signed into law on Wednesday requires a poster-sized display […]

12 hours ago

Associated Press

Survivors of New Hampshire motorcycle crash that killed 7 urge a judge to keep trucker off the road

Relatives and friends of seven motorcyclists who died in a 2019 crash urged New Hampshire officials Wednesday not to allow the trucker back on the state’s roadways. A jury in 2022 found Volodymyr Zhukovskyy not guilty of multiple manslaughter and negligent homicide counts stemming from the June 21, 2019, collision in Randolph that killed seven […]

12 hours ago

Chief: Indiana plastics fire reduced to a single hot spot