- Dry summer weather has led to at least three recycling facility fires in the western U.S. in July alone.
- In California, one incident at a plastics recycling facility owned by AHG Recycling took more than two hours to put out and spread smoke through the region. Another one at the Valley Services scrap metal and construction waste facility in San Jose only reached one-alarm proportions and was quickly put out.
- In Colorado, a stockpile of material at the Denver Scrap Metal facility caught fire and also spread smoke for miles. Two firefighters were hospitalized for relatively minor injuries.
The west experienced plenty of other recycling facility fires before this month as well. In New Mexico, the Albuquerque Metal Recycling Inc. caught fire for the 11th time in 10 years—the most recent time due to shredded automobile parts—and raised public health concerns in May. Last month, a three-alarm fire at a facility in Everett, WA burned for two days despite the efforts of more than 100 firefighters and a Los Angeles facility owned by a man with multiple felony violations for improper storage sent massive clouds of magnesium smoke into the region.
According to an article from the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, these fire aren't always preventable and the key is limiting their scope. One company called FireRover offers a portable on-site unit that uses thermal technology to detect potential fires before they flare and dispense suppression foams or liquids as needed. Honeywell also recently debuted its Fire Alarm Aspiration Sensing Technology which has advanced smoke detection abilities.
Even with this technology, dry summer weather makes fire prevention challenging. One of the best things to do is stay in touch with local fire officials on proper material storage procedures, emergency access points, sprinkler system maintenance, and other factors.