Advisories lifted after Tuesday's plant fire in Fairfield

July 27, 2011 12:03:56 PM PDT
Bay Area air quality officials are doing more environmental tests to ensure safety after a massive fire led to potentially toxic smoke at a Fairfield manufacturing plant.

Crews are now in cleanup mode at Macro Plastics where a large fire injured three firefighters. The firefighters were treated at the scene and experienced minor injuries.

The fire at Macro Plastics in Fairfield was so hot and intense, it demanded an incredible amount of manpower and water. More than 120 people showed up to fight the blaze on Tuesday, with fire crews using around 3,0000 gallons of water and foam every minute to cool off the burning plastic.

"It was actually creating its own wind and the heat that was occurring inside there was sucking plastic bins into the fire," said fire marshal Morgana Yahnke.

Firefighters were concerned about the black smoke hovering over Fairfield yesterday and issued a shelter-in-place order. Staying home wasn't an option for some, including Barbara Childers who suffers from asthma and said it was getting too hot inside.

"We went to the mall and had dinner there because we just had a hard time breathing," Childers said.

Initial tests show there's nothing to worry about and it is safe to go outside.

"I know some residents were concerned about air quality issues downwind of this event," said Yahnke, "They believe it would be similar to if it had been a grass fire in the area, so they're equating those two events."

There is some cleaning up to do. Workers at the Dover Mobile Home Park spent the morning attempting to get the ash out of the pool. Since the city insists the smoke wasn't toxic, property manager Dave Wilkey hopes sifting and vacuuming through the pool will be enough to make it safe for swimming.

"That's all I can go by," said Wilkey. "I don't have complicated testing equipment, but they said it was okay."

Otherwise, it appears to be business as usual. Childers says she isn't afraid to be, and neither is Wilkey and his crew.

"Yesterday, the sky was black," Wilkey said. "You couldn't even see the sun. It's all gone now, so I think it's okay."

Firefighters say they're proud because they managed to keep the fire contained to a back lot, which means flames didn't spread to nearby buildings.

Investigators think an employee doing maintenance may have accidentally started the blaze.

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