The fire that raged at Inmetco through Sunday and could be seen for miles is now under control.
The Ellwood City Fire Department reported that the fire is reduced to a few isolated fires that are being extinguished now. Approximately half of the building where the fire broke out collapsed and is in ruin.
The fire broke out on around 9 a.m. on Sunday in Inmetco’s West Building, which stores many types of batteries, including lithium-ion batteries. Because lithium is a reactive metal that combusts when it comes into contact with water, firefighters could not use water to combat certain areas of the fire. Instead, efforts focused on containing the spread of the fire and allowing the litium-ion areas to burn down.
Fire Chief Rick Myers commented that the fire is one of the largest he has fought. Indeed, the smoke could be seen for miles and people as far away as Chewton and Portersville were able to take photographs.
Personnel from the Department of Environmental Protection arrived and determined the fire did not pose a public health threat.
Nine firefighters were treated at the Ellwood City hospital for minor injuries. No Inmetco employees were harmed.
The cause of the fire is unknown. According to Myers, Inmetco currently has a team examining the cause. Attempts to contact Inmetco for comment have not yet been successful.
Fire departments that responded included Ellwood City, Wampum, Wurtemburg-Perry Township, Wayne Township, Taylor Township, Franklin Township, Frisco, North Sewickley Township, Koppel, Beaver Falls, New Brighton, Zelienople, Harmony, Evans City, and Portersville-Muddy Creek.
Ellwood City police, personnel from the Ellwood City hospital, and Lawrence County Emergency Management also arrived on scene.
Ranking police officer Lt. Dave Kingston said it was one of the largest responses he had seen in this area.
Inmetco is a hazardous waste recycling facility owned by Horsehead Industires and the only such facility in North America that recycles nickel-cadmium batteries. They also accept other types of batteries, including lithium-ion. Common uses for lithium-ion batteries include mobile phones and laptops.
The gallery below contains six photographs of the fire taken from various locations and sent to EllwoodCity.org via Twitter.