Recycling plant fire unfamiliar territory for firefighters

By: Chris Thomas Email
By: Chris Thomas Email

News 12 First at Five, April 22, 2010

AUGUSTA---Firefighters, the Environmental Protection Division, and the License and Inspection department want to know what started a fire that kept crews busy for hours today at an Augusta recycling plant.

Firefighters spent hours battling flames at Newell Recycling Plant on Molly Pond Road, off Gordon Highway. The plant deals with cars and metals.

Firefighters admitted it was a challenge, with homes right next to what became a highly flammable hot spot.

"First time I have been to something like this," said Capt. Alan Kneece. "I've been on the fire department 19 years."

The city called in an army of firefighters to battle unfamiliar territory.

"It was just a tough situation to get to, due to the size of the metal pile and where the fire was at," Capt. Kneece said.

Rumors have spread that the fire was set intentionally, but general manager David Reed tells News 12 he was at the site when the fire started and it was an accident. Arson investigators have been assigned to the case.

Lt. Brown with the fire department tells News 12 they are not considering it an arson case.

21 firefighters were on the scene, and it took five hours to get things under control.

"There is a compactor out in the middle that compacts all this metal, and it's got hydraulic fluid in it," said Battalion Chief Bryan McFeely. "So what we are trying to do is protect it and get all the stuff away from it, and tear it apart and put it out. There is no simple way to put this stuff out, except pull it apart, wet it down. Pull it apart wet it down."

"Seems like you all had your bases covered," we observed.

"Well, we try," said Capt. Kneece.

Water run-off concerns brought out License and Inspection and the EPD.

"This could have been an explosive situation," we said.

"It could have been a lot worse than what it was," Capt. Kneece nodded.

Now the cleanup begins.

We're told one person was treated for breathing trouble, but refused to be taken to the hospital. We believe that person worked at the scrap yard.

The company had no further comment on the fire. A spokesperson did tell us that their main concern is the safety of their employees.


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