After nearly a week away from their homes, Hoosiers in the immediate area around a massive plastics recycling facility that caught fire can finally return to their homes.
The EPA and leaders with the Wayne County Health Department have lifted the evacuation order for the neighborhoods impacted by toxic smoke and debris from the fire that burned for five days.
“We’ve been repeatedly testing the air and all of the chemicals that we’ve tested for have been non-detectable except for three, benzene, naphthalene, and butadiene,” said Dr. David Jetmore, the Chief Health Officer for Wayne County.
Those three chemicals are also in trace amounts at this point he says, which makes him comfortable lifting the order. He added that the wind and the rain that came through the state on Sunday also helped “cleanse the air.”
At the height of the fire in the middle of last week, the thick black smoke could be seen for miles and sent many toxic chemicals into the air, including the aforementioned three.
As the clean-up continues, health department leaders are urging residents as they head back into their homes to be mindful if they come across any debris from the fire in their yards or streets. Ideally, residents are urged to wait for experts to come out and clean it up for fear of exposure to toxic chemicals.
“This is a very large-scale clean-up, so you’ll wait for a response from the EPA,” said Christine Stinson with the Wayne County Health Department. “But, it could take a few days before they get around to residents. They’re concentrating on places like schools and public places first and then onto residents.”
Fire investigators are still trying to pinpoint the cause of the massive fire. City leaders are already placing blame on the owner of the facility for not complying with several city citations saying that what was going on inside was a fire hazard.