Crews continue to fight a fire at the MetalX scrap recycling facility in Delta that began Monday evening and at one point required over 140 firefighters on the scene.
“We’ve still got crews operating,” said Scott Smith, Delta Community Fire Department Chief. “The fire is close to being under control, but it’s still an active fire in that metal pile.”
As of noon Tuesday there were still 15-20 fire departments and about 75 firefighters on the scene at the corner of U.S. 20A and State Route 109. “At our strongest we had over 30 fire departments, over 46 pieces of equipment and 146 firefighters on the scene,” Smith said.
The fire developed in a pile of scrap metal feedstock at the shredder infeed. Typical shredder feedstock is comprised of mixed sheet metal and unprepared steel, crushed autos, light demolition scrap, and compacted appliances, according to the company. Shredder feedstock is approximately 80% recyclable metal with the remaining 20% being nonmetallic, some of which can be combustible under certain circumstances.
“We were met with heavy fire. We had heavy fire throughout the pile, and started attacking the fire and trying to maintain a safe area,” Smith said. “We’ve attacked the fire, and pretty much put water on the fire throughout the night.”
He said the intial response to the fire included multiple engines and multiple ladder trucks from four different communities because they had planned for this type of event.
“The risk of fire in this type of operation is always there,” Smith said. “Unfortunately in a pile that dense, once you get a fire in, it gets deep seeded and it’s hard to put out.”
Smoke from the fire could be seen from miles away.
Smith said that they are deploying multiple master streams to quench the fire, and heavy machinery to pull the piles of scrap and debris apart. They continue to work alongside MetalX company crews who are trained to use material handling equipment to help move or separate the material to minimize the effects of the fire.
No major injuries have been reported. One firefighter suffered an ankle injury. He sought treatment and is back home, according to the chief.
A cause of the fire has not been determined. The State Fire Marshal’s Office has been called in but an investigation has not really started, according to Smith. He added that the fire does not appear suspicious.
“While this is truly an unfortunate event, we are most relieved that no one was hurt and that there is no impact on the health of our employees or the community,” said MetalX CEO Danny Rikfin. “We are grateful for the tireless efforts of the firefighters from the surrounding area that came to our aid, as well as the support from the village and the county during this event. We particularly want to recognize our own team, many of whom have been on site since the fire was detected, and who have responded calmly and effectively as the situation has unfolded.”
Mayor Dan Miller and Administrator Brad Peebles stressed that the village’s water system was never compromised.
“From the onset of the incident early on, the village water system was the primary source of water for the attack of the fire,” said Peebles. “About two hours into the fire, our system did become taxed.”
At that point efforts were redirected from the village water to tanker haulers and water from other cities.
A release from MetalX said said even though no hazardous materials are accepted at the site, company protocol includes working with regulatory agencies to conduct air quality testing in an effort to prevent any impact on human or animal health.
Miller said they did not have an update on the testing as of noon.
School is in session today for Pike-Delta-York.
“Student safety is our highest priority at PDY. The district has been in contact with both the Delta Fire and Police Departments regarding the situation at MetelX and both have confirmed that it is safe for students to attend school,” a district statement said. “All schools will be open at the regular times as the boil advisory has been lifted. We will continue to communicate with emergency personnel about the situation.”