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Air, water contamination concerns follow Calif. recycling plant blaze

Posted on by SST

A fire that burned for 17 hours at a Redwood City recycling plant has left officials concerned about contamination.

Called in at 1:20 p.m. on Nov. 10, the fire raged in the scrap metal yard of Sims Metal management, Los Angeles Times reported. Firefighters battled the blaze throughout the afternoon, but found it difficult to extinguish. Heavy clouds of smoke emerged from the flames, prompting concern from officials.

Due to toxins in the smoke, a shelter-in-place order was initiated for residents living in the area. Individuals were advised to stay in the air homes and keep doors and windows shut.

"It was caustic, you could feel it burning," Bonnie Miller, a resident of Redwood City, told KTVU. "I'm an asthmatic so it affected me. Then I heard from the city, I got three phone calls so I went inside and locked my door."

As residents were advised to stay indoors, firefighters used tactics to control the fire. Cranes were brought into the recycling yard to lift burning debris, granting firefighters access to the core of the blaze. By midday, the flames were effectively contained, according to the Los Angeles Times. But it was not until the following morning that the fire would be extinguished.

Contamination concern
As the smoke cleared up the next day, residents were able to emerge from their homes. The shelter-in-place order was lifted at 6:20 a.m. Officials remained concerned, however, about the possibility of water contamination and poor air quality, Bay Area NBC affiliate reported.

"It's a really strange smell," said Megan Anzuini, who was working at a nearby tutoring center at the time of the blaze. "It's almost like burnt rubber and it stings. It kind of burns your eyes a little bit. It's a combination of a smell and you can feel it. It's almost smoggy outside"

Dangerous chemicals in the smoke could have worked their way into the city's water supply. Readings from a toxic gas detector found high levels of contaminants during the blaze and southwesterly winds had carried the smoke miles away. NBC reported additional concerns about prevailing toxins in the air.

Officials are continuing to investigate the possibility of contamination. No further developments have been reported.

No injuries have been reported as a result of the blaze.

Industrial Safety News brought to you by Safety Systems Technology, Inc., leaders in fire and gas detection.

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