Fire near downtown Indianapolis forces evacuation of five blocks

INDIANAPOLIS Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:26pm EDT

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INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - A fire at a sprawling downtown Indianapolis recycling plant, fueled by propane tanks and a massive stockpile of rubber tires, forced the evacuation of homes and businesses within a five-block radius on Saturday, officials said.

The fire started Saturday afternoon at the two-story, three-block-long brick warehouse that houses Nationwide OTR Recyclers, police and fire officials said. The blaze caused more than half the building to collapse, said Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Christopher Wilburn.

The building has a number of businesses, including the recycling plant, which houses 85,000 square feet (7,900 square meters) of rubber tires and 60,000 square feet (5,570 square meters) of wood palettes, as well a 500-gallon (1,900-liter) propane tank and a number of smaller tanks, Wilburn said.

By Saturday night, the fire was contained to the south side of the building, and firefighters were working to keep the large propane tank cool so it would not explode, Indianapolis Fire Department spokeswoman Captain Rita Burris told reporters.

Crews expect the fire to smolder for several days and it may be Monday "before they can get an actual handling on the smoldering," Burris said.

Numerous explosions - likely from propane tanks - were heard coming from inside the building since the fire began, Burris said.

She said the cause of the fire was unknown.

Smoke could be seen 20 miles away from the burning building and stiff winds carried embers at least two miles away, Burris said.

Residents and businesses in a five-block radius of the blaze were evacuated due to toxins in the smoke and sent to a nearby Red Cross shelter, Burris said.

Five neighboring fire departments helped battle the blaze.

Several federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Marion County Health Department were on hand to provide support, including air and other safety tests.

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries fighting the blaze, Wilburn said.

(Additional reporting by Chris Francescani in New York; Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Bill Trott)

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Comments (3)
smartnic wrote:
As you can see, recycling is way better than landfills.

Jun 15, 2013 10:48pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
jscott418 wrote:
I have noticed a build up at these recycling plants as their seems to be less and less demand for it. I know a few communities near me that have stopped their recycling collection program. Maybe its a dirty little industry secret but I suspect that recycling costs have begun to make the program less attractive.

Jun 16, 2013 6:09am EDT  --  Report as abuse
totherepublic wrote:
jscott418

My wife works for an electronic recycler, all the material goes to China. It is kind of like the gangland Jersey garbage “industry” on steroids.

Jun 16, 2013 1:19pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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