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Five Recycling Centers Battle Blazes in Just One Weekend

A huge fire broke out at a Eugene, Ore., vehicle recycling and scrapping plant Thursday, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

Goshen Recycling in west Eugene caught fire around 4.30 p.m. on Thursday, March 17, according to local news channel KMTR.

A large processing center – used by the plant to remove items and substances such as batteries and gasoline from the cars – was burnt down during the fire as well as a small trailer in which the night watchman lived. The plant also lost around $10,000 worth of tools in the fire, the channel reported.

Massive fires also broke out at other recycling centers in the U.S. and the U.K. over the weekend.

A fire started at the Preferred Filter Recycling center in Detroit sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning, according to Detroit news channel Local 4.

The business recycles and processes metals.

A fire at a recycling center in Southampton, England ignited on Saturday night. It took firefighters nearly six hours to put out the blaze that set alight almost 2,000 tons of domestic waste, the Southern Daily Echo reports.

On Sunday, more than 30 firefighters were called to put out a fire at an Alltrac Waste Management recycling plant in County Durham, England, according to the BBC.

And on Monday, firefighters were still at the Atlanta Paper Recycling warehouse, where over 100 firefighters had been called out ot battle a blaze on Sunday night. One firefighter had to be treated at a hospital for heat exposure, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Authorities were still trying to determine the cause of the blaze.

Nor are these the only major recycling center fires this year. After 1,000 tons of waste caught fire at a center in Cambridgeshire, England, in February, causing the closure of a highway, Aviva Risk Management Solutions warned of the importance of carrying out thorough fire risk assessments.

Much recycling waste is particularly susceptible to fire because of the machinery used to process it, according to Orthos Engineering managing director Keith Scott, writing in the trade journal HazardEx. Tools including shredders, hammer mills and rotary shearing machines create a high degree of friction, causing heat.

“All plants processing waste combustible material will have an incident eventually,” Scott says. But he said that management is becoming more aware of fire risks, and sensible precautions can prevent major incidents.

According to United States Fire Administration data from 1998, fires outside of refuse sites are most common in the months of March to August.

Some 40 percent of such fires are caused by arson and five percent are caused by spontaneous heating. The presence of flammable chemicals such as gasoline on hot metal from cars can increase the chance of ignition on hot days.

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