Waco wood recycling plant fire could burn for two days

Posted at 2:14 PM, Apr 26, 2017
and last updated 2018-06-19 15:01:00-04

A Waco wood recycling plant fire could burn for two days, according to a local assistant fire chief.

The fire first started about 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Waco Wood Recycling & Materials plant just off of Antler Road and McLaughlin Road. It was still burning as of 11:45 a.m. Thursday.

Firefighters from six departments were fighting the fire Wednesday, which an internal combustion of a mulch pit caused, authorities said. Firefighters responded three to four times this week for issues with fires in the mulch pit. 

The fire also affected Texas Tree Landscape and DBI Construction. 

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality was on the scene Wednesday.

The plant was cited by the TCEQ in 2010 for failure to "submit a notice of intent to operate a recycling facility to operate a recycling facility to the executive director at least 90 days prior to engaging in recycling activities" and "any storage of materials prior to recycling, how the materials will be recycled and updates or changes to information contained in the facility report within 90 days of the effective date of the change." 

The plant had also been cited for other minor and moderate violations. 

The smoke from the fire could still be seen from Highway 6 Thursday morning. 

Speegleville Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Kevin Merritt said it's that heat that's keeping them from putting the fire out. He said it would be a waste of water and resources to put out such a hot fire. 

Right now, firefighters are waiting for it to burn out on its own, which he said could take about two days. Merritt said the fire has become somewhat of a "giant controlled burn."

An employee and firefighter were both treated for heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation on Wednesday.

People living and working in about a dozen homes and businesses were told to voluntarily evacuate. The voluntarily evacuation was no longer in place as of Wednesday night.

Merritt said he and firefighters will be monitoring the fire throughout the day. He said all it takes is a heavy wind for it to spread.

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