- Piles of shredded automobile materials went up in flames at Albuquerque Metal Recycling Inc. yet again this weekend. The facility is owned by Acme Iron and Metal, which lists itself as New Mexico's largest scrap metal recycler.
- The Bernalillo County Fire Department (BCFD) said this is the 11th time they've responded to a fire at the facility in the past 10 years.
- No public health alerts were issued—unlike during previous fires—but local residents are concerned about toxins that may have been released into the air. Fire officials confirmed that burning metal, foam, and plastic from the automobile parts could present potential health risks.
While the incident is still under investigation, and high winds exacerbated the fire, this facility clearly has an issue. Scrap metal can generate dangerous levels of heat and requires careful attention. Officials said the facility has invested in new equipment to more finely shred the material, which helped ensure that the fire didn't burn as deeply into scrap piles as it has in the past.
As reported by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries' magazine, fire is unfortunately a common part of the business at even the most vigilant facilities. Keeping piles of material small and segregated, cleaning yards regularly, and working closely with local fire officials are all recommended precautions. The smallest fires cost businesses money for lost material and uncontrollable blazes could potentially destroy important infrastructure or worse.
Keeping these incidents in check will help maintain good relations with nearby residents—which is often a challenge for any waste-related facility—and also reduce the burden on fire departments. As reported by KRQE News, this particular fire took hours to extinguish and required multiple crews at great cost to local taxpayers.
"The cost of water, fuel, other resources like food and rehab for the crews, can get up there," BCFD Captain Chris Wish said to KRQE. "I can imagine quite high."