Investigators: Forklift backfire caused massive North Knoxville recycling plant fire

Local News
Recycling Facility smoking reports Monday May 6_0506_1557200292957.jpg.jpg

Arson investigators have concluded that last week’s massive fire at a North Knoxville recycling plant started when a piece of machinery backfired.

The fire at Fort Loudon Waste and Recycling started around 1 p.m. Wednesday, according to Knoxville Fire Department spokesman Capt. DJ Corcoran.

Corcoran says a forklift with a propane tank backfired, igniting several pallets of loose paper.

Employees tried to put the fire out themselves and emptied a few fire extinguishers. There was a delay in calling 911, so the fire got a head start on firefighters. Nearby residents called 911 when they spotted the heavy, black smoke.

More | You Ask, 6 Investigates: Why is there a waste plant so close to a neighborhood?

More | Fire hazards among $21K in 2018 OSHA violations at North Knoxville recycling plant

It took firefighters more than two days to fully put out the flames. The burning plastic and heavy smoke led to the evacuation of around 100 nearby homes. The fire ultimately consumed two acres of the plant.

The plant owed many thousands in back taxes and OSHA violations.

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