RICHLAND HILLS (CBSDFW.COM) – A five-alarm fire at a recycling plant in Tarrant County is expected to burn through the night and into Friday morning before firefighters can fully put it out.
Heavy black smoke was visible as far east as Arlington from the massive fire at Advanced Foam Recycling’s headquarters in Richland Hills on Thursday afternoon, Feb. 25.
Two employees were treated for minor injuries and another employee self-transported to a hospital.
More than 100 firefighters from at least 11 North Texas cities worked to contain the blaze on the 2500 block of Handley Ederville Road.
“We really ended up with a joint response right from the very beginning,” said Chief Russell Shelley with the Richland Hills Fire Department.
Richland Hills brought in its entire department from off-duty to help get the fire under control.
The massive effort comes after first responders dealt with a surge in calls during last week’s winter storms.
“It’s definitely been a struggle,” Chief Shelley said. “Our crews are tired. They’re still recovering from last week and then we have this today.”
The recycling center is right on the border of Richland Hills and Fort Worth.
Both cities have been dealing with water loss caused by either pump failure or water main breaks from the winter storms.
The water issues impacted firefighters’ flow early on.
“Between the two cities, we’ve managed to have just enough is really what it boils down to,” the chief said. “At one point, we were flowing in the neighborhood of 10,000 gallons of water a minute.”
Chief Shelley says the fire in parts of the 100,000+ sq. foot building used to store large bales of foam has been the most difficult to control.
Firefighters used drones to survey the scene from above.
“Those drones have thermal imaging capabilities, so we’ve been able to redirect our crews to where the hot spots in the building are,” said Shelley.
Regional workers from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality also responded to the fire and are conducting off-site air monitoring.
The Richland Hills Fire Department has brought in some of its county partners and reached out to ATF to make sure there are enough fire investigators on scene once this fire is put out.
Since it’s such a large building, the chief says it’s going to take some time to go through everything and figure out what started the fire.