Evacuation orders have been lifted as crews continued to work to put out a large fire burning at a recycling facility in North Knoxville. The Knoxville Fire Department says it is contained but will continue to burn.
Roads remain closed, however, around the facility.
KFD spokesperson DJ Corcoran says the fire has been contained to an area of about two acres and is not expected to grow, but it will still be some time before the fire is out.
Firefighters knocked down one of the buildings on the property as they work to put it out. A total of 180,000 gallons of water are being used every hour in an effort to extinguish the blaze.
Evacuations began a few hours after the fire started at Fort Loudon Waste & Recycling at 2742 Hancock Street.
Residents of around 100 homes were evacuated to the Emerald Youth Center, On Thursday, officials began letting residents back into their homes on foot only.
The following intersections remain closed:
- Pershing at Cedar
- Pershing at Atlantic
- Pershing at W. Morelia
- Pershing at Radford
- Radford at W. Glenwood
- Pershing at Banks
- Atlantic at W. Glenwood
- Burwell at Harvey
- Burwell at Hancock
- Burwell at Cornelia
- Morelia at Cornelia
- North Street at McMillan
The Knoxville Fire Department is imploring people in the area who haven’t been evacuated to either shelter in place with your HVAC unit turned off or to move to an unaffected area.
The Knox County Health Department says anyone having problems with smoke exposure such as trouble breathing and chest pain that doesn’t resolve after going inside or after taking medication should seek medical care immediately.
“To protect your health, it’s important to remember that if you can see or smell smoke, move away from the area,” said Knox County Air Quality Director Lynne Liddington. “If you cannot move away from the smoke, shut your doors and windows and turn off your air conditioning units. If you are driving through the smoke, roll up your windows and turn your air conditioning to recirculate, so you are not drawing the smoke into the vehicle.”
KFD spokesperson D.J. Corcoran said no one has been injured. Medical personnel is on site helping firefighters as they work long hours.
Corcoran says crews currently believe the fire started when a forklift or another similar piece of equipment backfired and threw a spark. That spark ignited two pallets of compressed paper.
Officials believe exploding propane tanks inside one of the plant’s buildings were the source of explosions that could be heard Wednesday afternoon.
Captain DJ Corcoran sharing these pictures with me just now. He says these propane cylinders are what exploded yesterday in the Fort Loudon Waste and Recycling fire.#Knoxville .@6News pic.twitter.com/Al9AqHeVj7 — Laura Halm (@WATELauraHalm) May 2, 2019
Workers at the facility tried to put out the fire but were unable to do so themselves. The fire was originally an acre when crews arrived and has grown to about two acres since then.