Shelter-in-place order lifted, disaster declared following five-alarm fire at recycling center
MADISON, Ill. (KMOV) – Nearly 200 first responders were on scene when a five-alarm fire ripped through a Metro East recycling center Wednesday.
The fire was reported around 10 a.m. on Fox Industrial Drive in Madison, Illinois. Heavy black smoke was seen across the area as flames shot out of the Interco building. Workers were inside recycling batteries, Madison Mayor John Hamm III said. An employee was hospitalized after being burned by the flames. The severity of his injuries is unknown.
“There were several explosions due to the hazardous materials and those materials are being identified at this time,” said Matt Coppin with Metro West Fire Protection District.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker issued a disaster proclamation Thursday for Madison and St. Clair Counties. The declaration allows for increased resources to be used to assist in the recovery following the fire. The proclamation will stay in effect for 30 days.
Around 11:30 a.m., Madison County EMA told News 4 they were sending out a Code Red for a shelter in place order around the burning building. The order was lifted by 1 p.m. the following day.
Granite City resident Richard Niehaus worked at the site when he was younger.
“I used to work in it when I was a teenager at Fox Warehouse,” Niehaus said. “I don’t know what started it but it’s going to take a while to put out.”
Smoke from the fire has been seen as far as the Saint Louis Zoo. Firefighters from across the area have been called to the scene, including from Spanish Lake, St. Louis City and Godfrey.
“What is on fire is some recycling materials, the structure itself and some cars that we’re parked near the building,” Coppin said.
Chief Meteorologist Steve Templeton shared radar images that showed a smoke plume from the fire.
In March 2020, the Madison Fire Department was called to the building for multiple explosions and wall collapse.
The cause of the most recent fire is unknown. Coppin explained that the investigation will begin once the fire is out.
Sierra Club Illinois responded to the fire with a statement, reiterating that this isn’t the first time the building has caught fire in recent years.
“We are deeply concerned to see repeat fires at a facility that stores a variety of harmful wastes. Illinois must make an effort to ensure metal recyclers don’t repeatedly threaten the health of their neighbors or force them to move out of environmental justice communities. Some states have passed cumulative impact laws that would block new permits for highly polluting industries to expand, rebuild, or relocate to a heavily-impacted environmental justice community. As a leader in climate justice, Illinois should do the same.”
The Salvation Army said it assisted firefighters responding to the fire by providing meals. The organization said it will be providing additional lunches and dinners from Thursday through Saturday for firefighters and other first responders.
Copyright 2022 KMOV. All rights reserved.