Massive fire contained at New Albany recycling center


by Johnny Archer

Posted on July 1, 2012 at 4:25 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 2 at 10:09 AM

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WHAS11) -- It took 11 hours before 19 fire departments were able to fully contain a massive fire in New Albany around 4 a.m. Sunday.

“We're just happy that it’s contained,” said New Albany Fire Chief Matt Juliot.

About 147 tankers rushed to QRS Recycling just west of downtown New Albany after the fire erupted around 5 p.m. Saturday.

PHOTOS: Firefighters battle massive blaze at QRS Recycling

At the height of the fire, black smoke filled the sky and could be seen for miles. Firefighters had to deal with extreme hot and dry conditions and then a broken water main, which fed the nearby fire hydrants.

“On the conditions of the heat and the water problems that we had, they [firefighters] did a great job,” said Juliot.

As the fire continued, fatigue became noticeable in the crew.  With Saturday's record temperatures, the safety of responding firefighters was paramount. Officials say eight fire fighters were taken to the hospital for heat exhaustion, but all have since been released.

No buildings or structures were destroyed and no one was injured by the fire.

Officials at the recycling plant said they’re ready to get their roughly 100 employees back to work.

“As far as the company goes, we should be running 100% tomorrow [Monday] and open for business,” said QRS Recycling owner Matt Janson.

One person was working at the plant when the fire started. Investigators still do not know what caused it. Extreme heat could have been a factor.

A large amount of plastic materials went up in flames. The blaze was several yards away from recycled paper. Firefighters were able to keep the inferno from spreading, using an estimated four million gallons of water.

Now, they will closely monitor hot spots at the recycling plant for the next several days.