Recycling plant fire
Firefighters continued to put out “hot spots” Thursday morning at the biggest blaze in Charlotte so far this year, at a recycling plant on the city’s westside.
The fire broke out around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Caraustar Recovered Fiber, a paperboard recycling plant, according to the Observer’s news partner, WBTV. Intense flames burned large piles of cardboard and appeared to melt pieces of a tractor-trailer shipping container on the property. Smoke from the fire could be seen by workers uptown.
Fire officials have ruled the cause of the fire accidental, according to WBTV. The fire started when a machine created a spark, causing paper and cardboard to go up in flames, the station reported.
The five alarm fire is the largest the Charlotte Fire Department has responded to this year, said Charlotte Fire Department spokeswoman Cynthia Shah-Khan. Firefighters were swapped out more frequently because of the size of the fire and the summer temperatures, which were in the mid-90s.
Four firefighters were checked out by paramedics for heat-related problems, Shah-Khan said. One firefighter was taken to Carolinas Medical Center for treatment.
Three other firefighters were taken to the hospital after inhaling carbon monoxide, Charlotte fire officials said at a news conference Thursday morning. They were treated and released.
Workers were inside the warehouse when the fire started, but were able to evacuate the building unharmed.
Shah-Khan said putting out the blaze would be a “long process,” as firefighters try to wet down the inside of piles of flammable material.
As of 10 a.m. Thursday, about 40 firefighters and support personnel from the Charlotte Fire Department were dousing the recycled materials with water to ensure the fire is out and will not rekindle, Shah-Khan said.
Medic operations teams, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and the Red Cross remained overnight to support to the fire department.
Firefighters expect to have the fire entirely out by mid-morning or early afternoon Thursday, officials said.