A large fire of scrap plastic in Amherstburg, Ontario, has been tentatively classed as accidental by the local fire-fighting authority.
Amherstburg Fire Chief Richard Murray said the cause of the Aug. 15 blaze at Enviro-Tech Plastics Ltd. was undetermined, but he suspects careless smoking started the fire in an outdoor storage yard. About 2 acres of high density polyethylene and other plastics were destroyed in the yard.
Fire officials responded to an emergency call at about 12:15 p.m. Low water pressure in the rural area outside Amherstburg was a constraint as some 80 firefighters from four stations fought the blaze. At the fire's peak, flames leaped about 65 feet in the air and dense black smoke could be seen more than 30 miles away. Firefighters let the blaze run its course until it burned itself out at about 9:30 p.m.
Hundreds of nearby residents evacuated their homes in the early stages of the fire but returned in late afternoon after investigators determined the smoke was not a major health risk. No one was injured in the incident.
One Enviro-Tech customer indicated it should not be affected by the fire. Buckeye Polymers Inc., a compounder in Lodi, Ohio, has been a buyer of regrind from Enviro-Tech, but its purchases have slowed down during the summer months. A spokesman said the amount of Enviro-Tech inventory destroyed is probably only a small part of what the firm normally handles and that Enviro-Tech's machinery was not affected.
Company officials declined requests for information about the fire and recycling operations.
Enviro-Tech and its predecessor firms are no strangers to fires, according to Fire Chief Murray. In the mid-1990s, arson was ruled as the cause of a blaze that started outdoors near Amherstburg. Three other, smaller fires have occurred at Enviro-Tech facilities in nearby Windsor, Ontario, during the past several years.
The Windsor Star reported Aug. 16 that a fire official blamed inadequate storage measures as contributing to the fire. Amherstburg Deputy Fire Chief Randy Sinasac said lack of space between piles of plastic meant there were no fire breaks to stop the spread.
``You see storage places like this all over the province,'' Sinasac was quoted as saying. ``People don't take notice until one ends up on fire.''