Updated at 5:06 p.m. Dec. 8
A four-alarm fire swept through a metal recycling yard in Everett, sending a billowing plume of black smoke into the air visible for miles. Here’s what we know about the fire.
The fire started around 8 a.m. Wednesday on the Rover Street property of Schnitzer Steel Industries, a national company that operates the metal recycling facility. The property is about half a mile from the Encore Boston Harbor casino. Everett police and fire were present at the scene, along with Mayor Carlo DeMaria.
What our firefighters were facing when they first arrived on scene at 69 Rover street Schnitzer Northeast pic.twitter.com/ziYTU34VsA
There are no reported injuries, Schnitzer Steel Industries told GBH News in an emailed statement.
“This morning a fire occurred at the Schnitzer recycling facility. The Everett Fire Department swiftly arrived on the scene in response," the statement from the Oregon-based company read. "We have no reported injuries from the incident. We are working closely with the Fire Department to bring this situation to a safe conclusion.”
As of early afternoon, the fire is mostly out.
There have been other, smaller fires previously at the site in 2018 and 2020. The company would not comment on the circumstances surrounding those incidents.
The smoke plume is a public health concern and is a tier 1 hazmat incident, requiring risk assessment but no large response team. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection responded to the fire and is collecting air samples at downwind locations. Those will be analyzed for what the agency calls “volatile organic compounds.”
“The fire is reportedly located in the shredder building, which houses a large shredder that is used to shred whole cars for metal recycling,” said press secretary Edmund Coletta. “While information from the scene is currently limited, MassDEP assumes that the fire involves the plastics waste stream that is produced in the shredding process.”
The agency has not received any reports of releases of oil or hazardous materials at the fire scene.
In the late afternoon, Coletta said that based on an analysis of samples collected, there were no detections of contaminants at any levels of concern. The agency had been concerned about air quality being impacted by a plume of smoke subject to winds traveling from north to south toward the Mystic River and Charlestown.
Local IAFF Local 143, the union representing the firefighters, tweeted its companies “will be tied up for some time,” chasing hot spots throughout the building. The union also said everyone who worked there was out of the building and accounted for. Cambridge, Boston, Chelsea, Revere, Medford and Somerville Fire Departments sent engines to help.
Fire chief Steve Mazzie tweeted the public should avoid the area near Robin, Dexter and Mystic streets in the lsland End Industrial area of the waterfront.
This story was updated with updates on the fire status and the Department of Environmental Protection assessment, as well as the fact that two previous fires occurred at the site.
Sarah Betancourt is a bilingual reporter for GBH News, and longtime Boston muckraker. She was a reporter for CommonWealth Magazine, and senior immigration reporter for Law360. She's covered politics, immigration, incarceration, and health for The Guardian, DigBoston, The Boston Globe, and The Associated Press.
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