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Richmond fire

Source: WISH-TV / other

RICHMOND, Ind. — Hoosiers who live near where a massive fire sent toxic, black smoke into the air are finally getting settled back into their homes after having to stay away for a week earlier this month.

The fire destroyed a plastics processing facility which caught fire, exactly as city leaders had feared after citing the owner of the building several times for not maintaining safety at the facility. The mayor of Richmond had called the facility a “fire hazard” in court documents.

“You know, now we’re just cleaning it up wearing N95s, hopefully, that’s enough to mitigate some of the health risks,” said Robert Gioeli on WISH-TV. He lives in a house close to the facility.

Gioeli said when he and his family first returned to the house after the evacuation order was lifted he walked into a home full of soot from the fire. Now he is worried about his two young kids as they continue to clean it up.

“It makes me kinda nervous because what if I don’t do a good job cleaning it up, because there were I think thousands of chemicals in that building,” said Gioeli. “So, just to know they could be exposed to more if I can’t get it all cleaned up is kind of concerning.”

The EPA held a community information event in Richmond Tuesday evening to answer questions, provide guidance, and everything in between for people like Gioeli.

Still, there were questions that were not able to be answered by event organizers, like what started the fire in the first place?

“I’m upset because the guy didn’t do anything, or let’s put it this way, whoever was supposed to take care of it didn’t but that’s how life goes,” said Kebra Hoskins, a resident who lives one block away from the fire site.

Residents are being urged to use clean-up kits offered up by the EPA and if they come across any debris from the fire to pick it up using gloves and then to double bag it before tossing it in the trash.