Recycling center fire took thousands in overtime, 7.62 million gallons of water to put out

Local News

It burned for nearly two days and forced many out of their homes. The fire last week at the Fort Loudon Waste and Recycling Center sent billowing black smoke, seen by hundreds in Knoxville. It was a sight they’re not likely to forget anytime soon. 

Investigators determined the fire was caused by a backfiring forklift. 

Previous storyInvestigators: Forklift backfire caused massive North Knoxville recycling plant fire

The fire is out. Everyone is safe. But what is the final bill for putting the fire out and who’s paying it? 

Knoxville Fire Department Captain D.J. Corcoran said Thursday the department is still tallying up the total amount of overtime from the fire. At the fire’s peak, he said there were 65 firemen on the clock. Some were on duty and some were called in, earning time and a half. Corcoran said any overtime expense will come from KFD’s operating budget. 

Looking back at the flames, Corcoran said, “This fire that happened last week ranks up there with the mulch fire of 2012, the McClung warehouse, some of the bigger fires that the city of Knoxville has seen in history.” 

During the bulk of the fire, from 3-4:00 p.m. Wednesday until the next morning, Corcoran said KFD had three aerial devices putting out the fire. In an hour, the three hoses, he said, used about 180,000 gallons of water an hour. 

While it will likely be a couple of weeks before KFD has a total amount, we do know how much water they used. 

A spokesperson with KUB confirmed Thursday the fire took 7.62 million gallons of water to put out. The cost is roughly $11,600. That is set to be billed to KFD, in addition to what they’re normally billed every month for unmetered water use. 

On top of the overage in water use, the City of Knoxville pays a fire hydrant service charge to KUB, which was most recently just shy of $3.3 million, according to the city’s finance director. 

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