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Massive Fire Destroys Massachusetts Recycling Plant

Massive Fire Destroys Massachusetts Recycling Plant
(Photo: Fire consumes a recycling plant in North Andover, Massachusetts, on August 20, 2019. Credit: @scooperon7 on Twitter)

A massive fire broke out at a construction waste recycling plant in North Andover, Massachusetts, last night and continued to burn this morning. The four-alarm blaze completely destroyed the Thompson Brothers Industries facility.

North Andover fire lieutenant Michael Beirne told 7 News Boston that the “deep-seated” fire caused heavy damaged to the facility and all of the material there. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to the outlet.

The fire began while the plant was closed and the firefighters who responded said no one injured, WCVB reported.

This is not the first fire to break out at the Thompson Brothers Industries recycling plant, the Eagle-Tribune’s Paul Tennant reported. Previously, demolition debris ignited in August 2012 and an excavator caught fire in 2017, he wrote. However, both were less serious than the latest one.

Smoke continued to pour out of the building on Wednesday morning. “The Massachusetts Department of Fire Services sent a hazardous materials response team,” Tennant wrote. “The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection monitored air quality in the area.”

Last year saw a spike in fires at waste and recycling plants across the United States and Canada. One expert tracking them, Fire Rover’s Ryan Fogelman, found a 93% increase in the number of blazes compared with the same time period in 2017.

Recycling Plant Fires Continue to Surge

This month alone, the FDNY responded to a fire on the first floor of a paper recycling plant on Staten Island, crews battled a stubborn blaze at a recycling plant in Calgary that lacked a nearby hydrant, and flames broke out in a debris pile at the Penn Recycling plant in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Waste and recycling has long carried a fire risk, Waste Today reported this summer. Pete Keller, vice president of recycling and sustainability at Republic Services, told the magazine that the loose, dry material in a recycling setting is dangerous. “We’ve seen an increase in incidents where we have a fire and the cause of origin is lithium-ion batteries,” he added.

Fogelman also called the rising use of lithium-ion batteries a large challenge for the waste and recycling industry in an annual report on fires published this year.

“These batteries are small enough to get into cracks and screens and cause issues from drop-off to finished product, and at this point, they’re not only causing increased fire incidents at material recycling facilities, but also at construction and demolition, scrap metal, paper, and plastic recycling operations,” he wrote.

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