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Richmond fire

Source: WISH-TV / other

UPDATE: The Richmond fire has been extinguished.  Mayor Dave Snow posted this message to his Facebook page Thursday:

Just received a very encouraging call from our Fire Chief, Tim Brown.  The fire has been fully extinguished ahead of schedule.  Our Fire Department is to be highly commended for their swift and brave action.  We’re now able to turn our attention to collecting air and water samples and determine when the evacuation order can be lifted.  Our goal is to get people back into their homes as soon as possible.  We’ll have more information to share once it becomes available.

RICHMOND, Ind. — Firefighters are still in danger, and it’s too early to look forward.

That’s the word from Richmond, Indiana Mayor Dave Snow in a press conference Thursday afternoon.

“We did have a second, minor firefighter injury last evening,” Snow says, “one firefighter who was providing aid to our fire department was overcome by heat, and was treated and released from the scene.”

As for the fire itself, it’s around 90-percent extinguished, according to Richmond Fire Chief Tim Brown. He says the department should be able to get the fire completely put to rest by Thursday night or early Friday morning.

Several agencies and departments have been on site since Tuesday, when the thick, black plume of smoke began pouring out of a plastics recycling center in Richmond. An evacuation zone of half a mile was put in place by the Wayne County Emergency Management Agency, and a shelter-in-place order was established for people outside of that evacuation zone.

Richmond Sanitation District Director Pat Smoker says some potentially contaminated water made it’s way into the area of the water treatment plant, but so far, there’s been no cause for concern on the part of the sanitation district.

“We have no way to clearly identify this yet, but there have, however, been no noticeable changes in the treatment plant,” says Smoker. He says the district has monitored the river for several miles south of town, and no animals have been hurt, yet.

There’s still reason to be concerned and cautious, however.

“If you smell the smoke or if you’re seeing smoke, you’re in the plume,” says Christine Stinson, Director of the Wayne County Health Department, “today was a perfect example of that plume shifting a little bit.”

Jason Sewell with the Environmental Protection Agency says testing has revealed asbestos in some debris that landed in people’s yards Tuesday:

Probably the worst thing you could do if you have debris in your yard, and again this is for people who may have been down wind where debris may have accumulated in your yard, the worst thing you could do would be to mow and break up that material and aerosolize it where you may inhale it. If you think you have debris in your yard, don’t disturb the debris for now. Avoid mowing until we come out with more instructions on outdoor clean-up.

A sample of the air at the smoke site was taken and testing results should return Friday.

Mayor Snow says several local churches and the American Red Cross are offering resources for people affected by the smoke and evacuation. If you need help or resources, you can go to or call 973-9300.