DELTA – Crews from throughout the region fought 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.
“At our strongest we had over 30 fire departments, over 46 pieces of equipment, and 146 firefighters on the scene,” said Delta Community Fire Depaerment Chief Scott Smith.
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 deployed multiple master streams to quench the fire, and heavy machinery to pull the piles of scrap and debris apart. The fire departments worked 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, but there were two minor injuries.
A cause of the fire has not been determined. Smith said 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.”
Delta 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.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has found no traces of chemicals in the air following testing, according to information from the village.
Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010