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Crews knock down fire at Redwood City metal recycling plant

Redwood City metal recycling plant fire sends black plume of smoke into sky
Redwood City metal recycling plant fire sends black plume of smoke into sky 03:39

Crews have mostly extinguished a fire at a metal recycling plant in Redwood City Wednesday that sent up a large plume of smoke over the Peninsula.

The fire was burning at the Sims Metal recycling center located at 699 Seaport Blvd. Smoke was first seen shortly before 3 p.m.

Video of the smoke was posted via the Citizen app and was also visible on Alert Wildfire cameras. Aerial footage showed multiple fire trucks pouring water onto the fire. 

Chopper video of crews fighting the fire can be seen below.  

Fire burning at the SIMS Metal Recycling Plant in Redwood City by KPIX | CBS NEWS BAY AREA on YouTube

The Redwood City Fire Department said officials at the plant told them the fire started in one of their metal scrap piles before it got shredded at around 3 p.m. The plant contacted Redwood City Fire immediately.

Workers at the plant were assisting fire crews in spreading the pile apart, doing some shredding of the material and working in conjunction with firefighters to reach the burning materials.

Fire officials said the scrap pile is made up of water heaters, cars, and other scrap metal. The larger pieces of metal require the cranes with grapplers to move the piles and spread them pile. Workers are also shredding as much material as fast as they can to mitigate the embers.

Redwood City Fire said some of metal scrap has chemical foam material, which is contributing to the smoke. The hottest burning metal is in the middle of the pile, making the fire difficult to put out.

As of shortly before 5 p.m., crews had been on the scene for nearly two hours, fire officials said. They estimated the fire would be under control by around 5:30 p.m. and that it would take plant workers approximately another half hour to finish shredding the scrap. 

Officials said once the fire was extinguished, investigators will review video footage provided by SIMS Metal to try and determine a cause. Redwood City Fire said crews would likely be at the plant until 8 p.m.

The fire appeared to be out before 6 p.m., with very little smoke rising from the scrap heaps at the recycling center.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District told CBS News Bay Area that their inspectors were investigating the incident. 

"There is potential for smoke impacts in the immediate area and downwind neighborhoods," a BAAQMD spokesperson said in an email. "The public can avoid smoke exposure by remaining indoors with windows and doors closed, if temperatures allow. Residents should follow instructions from local health officials."

Sunnyvale officials issued an advisory regarding the smoke from the fire, informing residents that the fire was not burning within city limits. Those who are sensitive to smoke were advised to remain indoors if possible. Authorities in Mountain View also advised residents to only report a fire if they could see flames given the smoke from Redwood City.

The smoke was reported as far south as Gilroy, but had its biggest impact on nearby homes in the path of the plume.

Sims Metal released the following statement Wednesday evening.

At approximately 2:55 pm on Wednesday 22 May, we experienced a fire at our metal recycling facility in Redwood City.   The Redwood City Fire Department was contacted and responded quickly to our location. Our team worked alongside the Redwood City Fire Department and the fire was extinguished just after 5.30pm. There have been no injuries or damage to property.

While still too early to confirm the cause of the incident we are working with the Redwood City Fire Department and local authorities to investigate.

Sims Metal apologizes for any disruption caused as a result of the incident. We want to thank the Redwood City Fire Department and all those, including our onsite team, who acted diligently to extinguish the fire safely.

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