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Plant fire occludes air near El Paso, Texas

Posted on by SST

A recycling plant in Montana Vista, Texas, burned the morning of Oct. 10, emanating thick black smoke that hung over the community.

Authorities were alerted at 8:27 a.m. of a fire at Chico's Recycling, about 18 miles east of El Paso. Responders from all fire departments in the county were asked to respond to the blaze, the El Paso Times reported. Upon arrival, the facility was completely engulfed in flames.

"Good thing that nobody was working yet," said Adalberto Pong, an employee at a nearby plant. "Everything was starting to burn real fast, so I just told him to leave everything. We just backed away before the Fire Department came."

With the closest fire hydrant being a half mile away, fire suppression had to be handled with water supplied by tankers. Firefighters from San Elizario, Clint, Fabens, Socorro, Montana Vista and El Paso work to put out the blaze, which, by nighttime, was still flaring up due to hot spots. El Paso sheriff Deputy Angelica Becarra said the facility looked to be "a total loss."

It is unknown what initially caused the fire, but propane tanks on the property may have supplied fuel. Along with electronics and piles of scrap metal, tires burned in the blaze, producing heavy black smoke. The smoke was so voluminous that officials worried nearby homes would experience damage. About 15 nearby residents were evacuated, Fox affiliate reported.

"It's bad. The fire is everywhere, the smoke is everywhere, and it's bad for the animals, too," said Jazmine Jean, a nearby resident. Although the plant is located in a sparsely populated section of town, some of Jean's neighbors and family members were evacuated.

Reports indicated that officials waited for hot spots to clear before investigating the cause of the blaze. Despite the concern, no smoke damage to nearby homes was reported.

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

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