Firefighters from all parts of Bucks County and several New Jersey communities battled a large blaze at SIMS Metal Management in the Morrisville section of Falls Township Tuesday, working well into the evening.
One employee of the metal recycling yard on Steel Road suffered minor smoke inhalation injuries but refused to be taken to the hospital, Falls Township Fire Co. Chief Mike McClellan said.
Thick black smoke from the blaze could be seen from miles around and was blown by a light wind toward Trenton, N.J.
The fire was reported in a 100-foot-long, 35-foot-high pile of stacked vehicles set to be recycled at around 3:35 p.m., McClellan said. When the chief left his home to respond to the call, smoke from the fire could be seen from his home seven miles away.
Flames were fed by parts of the car interiors such as seats and plastic molding, McClellan said.
At around 4 p.m., a second fire started in the roof area of a nearby industrial business.
The fire at the second business, not far from SIMS Metal Management, was quickly put under control but caused damage to the businesses roof, McClellan said.
As the sun set, more than half-a-dozen water tanker trucks from as far away as Doylestown and Florence, N.J. shuttled water to the scene of the fire at the metal recycling facility.
The tanker trucks, brought in due to low water pressure at the scene, were assisted by roughly 125 firefighters and dozens of engine, ladder and rescue trucks from across the lower end of the county.
McClellan said during the height of the blaze firefighters worked to protect a multimillion-dollar piece of shredding equipment used at the facility.
"Junk cars aren't worth what that machine is,” he told reporters gathered at the scene.
The fire command officers declared the fire under control shortly after 8:30 p.m.
Firefighters remained on scene as darkness overtook the sky and were expected to remain at the scene pouring water on the smoldering vehicles. Cranes were used to remove parts of the pile that were still ablaze, McClellan told Patch.
Around the time firefighters declared the fire under control, an official from the EPA arrived on the scene. The agency is expected to take air samples Wednesday morning, McClellan said. The Bucks County hazmat unit also responded to the scene.
In addition, the Coast Guard was called to be sure no contaminated water made its way into the Delaware River, which lies less than a half mile from the scene of the fire.
McClellan praised crews from around the area and said the scene was handled well due to the “utmost in cooperation with the firefighters and county dispatchers.”
No word from officials on what sparked the fire at the recycling facility or the blaze at the nearby industrial building.