UPDATE @ 8:33 p.m. (July 11): The investigation into the cause of the massive fire at a pallet yard on Warder Street, as well as possible legal action against the yard's owners, continues, Assistant Fire Chief Matthew Smith, Springfield Fire Rescue Division, said Thursday afternoon.
Smith said the fire division has been able to determine that A&P Investments owns the land at 1200 Warder and leases it to Tri State Wood Products.
Tri State sub-leases the land to S&D Pallets and the latter company owns all of the pallets on the site, he said.
Wednesday night, Fire Chief Brian Miller estimated the fire burned “tens of thousands” of pallets covering nearly 3 acres.
Robert Wallace, who lives next to the yard, described the fire as “pretty scary because it’s pretty close to all of our houses here.” He said he has been concerned about it for years: “It’s an eyesore, really.”
The massive fire forced firefighters to take a defensive approach in their attack, which included shooting elevated streams of water from ladder trucks because firefighters couldn’t get close enough to focus water at the source of the flames.
That lack of access -- caused because the pallets were stacked too closely together, the chief said -- allowed the fire to burn into Thursday morning.
He said the Warder Street property has been on the fire division’s radar for previous code enforcement violations because there should be 20-foot wide paths between the stacks for fire equipment access.
Codes are enforced at pallet yards throughout Springfield, Miller and Smith said, noting that various owners in the area have ongoing citations because of code violations.
Owners can be cited for violations that include improperly storing, stacking, and laying out the pallets. Fines range from $200 to $1,000 per day until the issue is remedied.
Wednesday night, as the pallets were burning, a caller to this newsroom identified himself as Tri State Pallet, Inc. president and said the burning pallets didn’t belong to his company.
We will continue to update this story as we find out more.