Firefighters battle toxic smoke from Richmond scrap metal fire

Byby Kate Larsen KGO logo
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Firefighters battle toxic smoke from Richmond scrap metal fire
EMBED <>More Videos

A shelter-in-place was briefly issued Tuesday night when a Richmond scrap metal facility ignited, causing firefighters to act quickly to knock down the flames.

RICHMOND, Calif. (KGO) -- A large scrap metal fire in Richmond is sending a plume of toxic smoke across the East Bay.

Heavy equipment pulled piles of debris away from a toxic fire burning at Sims Metal Management in Richmond.

VIDEO: Crews battle fire at Richmond scrap metal facility

"This business takes in cars, they dismantle them, they sell the metal, so we have a heap of metal that's out there burning," said Deputy Fire Chief of the Richmond Fire Department, Emon Usher.

Usher says there are more than 40 firefighters on scene who have been trying to put out the 25-foot high pile of flaming metal since 5 p.m., but the firefighters can only get so close.

"We would be able to remove the piles of debris if the air quality nearest the fire was better, but because it was so bad and it was below 20 percent in oxygen, there's not a way anyone could survive in that area," Usher added.

Contra Costa County hazmat teams are monitoring the air, carbon monoxide levels have been high in the area.

"It's very dangerous. It's very poisonous," Usher said. "And that is why we're trying to extinguish this fire as quickly as possible."

Because of the poor air quality, the fire department has issued a shelter-in-place order for nearby neighborhoods.

Usher's advice to them, "Shut off their air conditioning, and shut off their windows, and close their doors, and keep their kids inside."

VIDEO: Large plume of smoke visible from Richmond fire

Shell, Dow Chemical, and Chevron fire resources are also on scene to put out the flames.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but ABC7 News was told Sims Metal is cooperating.

Toll takers from the Richmond-San Rafael bridge were evacuated around 10 p.m.

Usher says he hopes to have the fire out Tuesday night, but he will have crews out here Wednesday morning to ensure nothing reignites.

The blaze was first reported at 5:08 p.m. at Sims Metal Management at 600 South Fourth Street, Capt. Rico Rincon said.

Here are the latest shelter-in-place updates from the Richmond Fire Department: