Spark turns into huge blaze at Rumpke Recycling

The aftermath of the Rumpke fire
The aftermath of the Rumpke fire

ST. BERNARD, OH (FOX19) - Firefighters continue to monitor and put out hot spots at the Rumpke recycling facility after Tuesday's fire.

Fire crews were called to the recycling center in the 5500 block of Vine Street around 5:30 Tuesday night.

The smoke was visible for miles on I-75.

Rumpke says the fire started while a truck was dumping recycling material into the building and something inside the truck sparked. They say because of the high winds the fire spread quickly into the building.

St. Bernard Township Fire Chief Steve Scherpenberg says his crews had their hands full. "It was a difficult fire to fight as far as fire fighting standards are concerned. It was a large area with a lot of combustible materials burning with a heavy high wind blowing," said Scherpenberg.

Rumpke's Molly Yeager says that while operations at the St. Bernard facility are suspended recyclables are being brought to the Colerain Township landfill where they're loaded onto transfer trucks for shipment to Columbus and Dayton. Yeager says "Our plant's not in operation, but our trucks are. We've been out collecting recyclables since early this morning. Curbside pickup's not affected today and it will be recycled," said Yeager.

The St. Bernard plant underwent a 6.5 million dollar equipment upgrade two years ago, but Yeager says its unclear when it might reopen. "Until we can get inside and really assess the damage and see if there's any salvageable equipment...we really have no idea when we'll get this plant back up in operation."

Chief Scherpenberg says the thick plumes of smoke posed only a modest environmental hazard. "Where it's located is an industrial based area so it really did not impact residential areas per se. We had some concerns about burning, traveling embers, traveling and creating secondary fires which did create a couple of small ones in some brush,"said Scherpenberg.

Significant damage to the south side of main building and main office is visible, however no employees were injured. It may be days before Rumpke workers can get inside the plant to get an accurate damage assessment. Rumpke will work with the authorities to conduct a complete investigation of the incident.

According to the fire department,  a few firefighters were treated and released for minor injuries. One fire fighter was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

"We appreciate the quick response from the area fire departments," said Amanda Pratt, director of communications at Rumpke.

The exact cause of the fire, along with the extent of the damage, has not been determined. According to Rumpke's website the facility opened in 1991 and employs 80 people. They recycle single stream processing, public drop-off boxes and commercial, residential, industrial and construction programs.

Rumpke does want to reinforce that pickup will continue as scheduled and your service will not be interrupted.

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