ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Bernalillo County Fire Department and Albuquerque Fire Rescue contained a large fire at a recycling yard in the area of Edith and Montano on Tuesday.
“The smoke was very black, I don’t know if that means it’s hot or what; you could see the flames, they were probably higher than our building. It was just really scary,” said Amanda Philip, who works nearby.
AFR reported there were 20 units at the scene of the outside fire in addition to Kirtland Air Force Base Crash & Foam trucks. Fire officials say the fire did not cause any damage to the building.
All occupants at the facility were also evacuated along with nearby homes. No injuries were reported. Crews say they were able to respond within five minutes of getting the call, getting a good and early handle on the fire.
“Most of the damage, most of the flames are outside, exterior to a holding area. Nothing interior at all at this time,” said Captain Martin Salazar with AFR.
Since the fire caused so much smoke, the City of Albuquerque issued an air quality control warning that is in effect until 6 p.m. The city says that the fire could be burning plastics and other substances that emit hazardous air pollutants.
“There are plastics burning at this recycling facility and plastics contain chemicals that are hazardous once they become airborne when they are burnt,” said Jeff Stonesifer, a meteorologist for the City of Albuquerque Air Quality.
Residents are warned that the air quality may be unhealthy near the fire and everyone should avoid exposure to the smoke. The location of the fire is at Friedman Recycling where a fire broke out in June 2019 after bales of recycled materials caught fire.
The owner of the Friedman Recycling plant says that the 2019 fire was caused by an old lithium battery that someone tried to recycle. “When people take electronics into the recycling paper and either get crushed or run over them in the process, they spark and cause a fire,” said Morris Friedman.
Fire crews say they’re now breaking up big bales of recycling to release some heat from them and prevent another flare-up. They also say they’ll be at the location well into Tuesday night and possibly until midnight working. Investigators are still looking into what caused this fire.