Richmond Toxic Fire: Firefighters have 90% of fire out at plastic facility

RICHMOND, Ind. — City, state and federal officials provided an update on the fire at a Richmond, Indiana plastics facility as it burns for the third day straight.

Richmond Fire Chief Tim Brown says the fire that has been burning since Tuesday afternoon is roughly 90 percent out.

Firefighters’ strategy of attack on the fire have changed today and now crews are focusing more on going inside the hot zones, turning things over and trying to put them out.

>> PHOTOS: Large-scale fire continues to send plumes of black smoke into air in Richmond

“We’re hoping to have the fire closer to 98-99 percent out sometime this evening and, if not, tomorrow morning,” Brown said.

Christine Stinson, Executive Director of the Wayne County Health Department, said that they evacuation order remains in place.

With a wind change, some people that previously didn’t smell or see smoke are starting to do so. Stinson said that means they are in the plum and should try to shelter in place.

“Limit opening and closing of the door, shut off your HVAC system. And limit your activities outside. If you are outside, and we know a lot of people have things that they got to they got to get done outside, wear a mask,” Stinson said.

A representative for the EPA said Thursday that they detected what they call “volatile organic compounds” in the air at the fire site.

>> I-TEAM: Documents show Richmond officials’ concern about plastics facility years prior to toxic fire

The EPA has set up an air test site outside the evacuation zone, about a three-mile drive from the site, and will be able to better tell what the community at large is dealing with if there’s ground level smoke. They expect to release those test results tomorrow.

Richmond’s sanitary district said there is a possibility water runoff from the fire site made its way through drains to the city’s water sanitation plant, but added that they have not noticed any changes at the plant while they’ve been testing there.

Richmond Mayor Dave Snow said the health department is working on putting together cleaning kits for when people do get to return home. Until then, if someone needs to return home for essential items, like medication, they can call the community help line for an escort into the evacuation area.

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