UPDATE @ 6:20 a.m.:
Fire crews continued fighting the blaze until about 1:30 Thursday morning, when they left the scene.
We currently have a reporter at the scene who said there’s no sign that the pallets are smoldering. We’re also working to talk to Springfield fire officials to learn how the fire started.
It’s estimated that “tens of thousands” of pallets covering nearly 3 acres burned at the pallet yard off Warder Street in a Wednesday night fire, according to Chief Brian Miller of the Springfield Fire Rescue Division.
Two pallet yard owners store pallets on the property, he said, and one of them is Tri State Pallet Inc. The chief said he couldn’t recall the name of the second company.
A caller to this newsroom who identified himself as the Tri State Pallet president said the pallets that burned didn’t belong to his company.
“That’s not our inventory,” the man said, asking that he not be identified by name.
Whichever company is responsible for the pallets could be the focus of further investigation because the pallets were “stacked pretty tight,” Miller said, and that made firefighter access to the burning wood difficult.
Miller said the property “has been on our radar for quite a while” from a code enforcement standpoint because there are supposed to be 20-foot wide paths left between the stacks for fire equipment access.
“We didn’t have adequate access tonight,” he said, because of how closely the pallets were stacked.
Crews were able to fit an SUV into the stacks and a forklift operator from one of the pallet factories was able to move a lot of the pallets to give crews a natural fire break, Miller said.
When crews arrived, they had to pull up on the west side of the property and shoot elevated streams of water onto the flames, the chief said. Crews were also deployed on the north side of the property, where they shot water over a line of old school buses that served as a fence for a junkyard.
Springfield police diverted traffic on Warder and at Lagonda Avenue, across railroad tracks that run along the property where the pallets are stacked.
Callers to this newsroom reported a large cloud of black smoke coming from the area.
Police are blocking traffic at North Greenmount Avenue, Warder Street and Columbus Avenue. Fire crews also have asked that the train tracks near the factory be shut down until further notice because fire hoses are being stretched across the tracks.
Miller said a fire company will be kept on the property all night to deal with hot spots and rekindles.
There were no reports of any injuries.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
We will continue to update this developing report as we learn more.
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