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Wayne County residents concerned about air quality after industrial fire in Richmond

richmond fire.PNG
Posted at 11:18 PM, Apr 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-13 11:23:54-04

RICHMOND — An industrial fire at a warehouse in Richmond continued to burn Wednesday.

Smoke from the recycling plastics plant is toxic and Wayne County residents are concerned about the potential effects this could have on their health.

“I started smelling it inside the apartment, with all the door and windows closed," Tim Day said. “It was like a burning in the nose.”

The 21-year-old lives a mile and a half from the warehouse on NW F street.

His biggest concern: his seven-month-old daughter.

He and his family left town and stayed with his mom in nearby Centerville Tuesday night.

“She’s young enough where anything can cause anything. With any kinds of smells, it can cause bad problems for her. She’s already sensitive," Day said.

16-year-old Aaron Ferrell woke up to the foul smell in the air Wednesday morning.

“I live right around the corner. There’s soot all over my dad’s car and all over everyone else in the neighborhood’s car. It’s crazy. The whole thing’s crazy," Ferrell said.

The Northeastern High School student is concerned about the consequences of breathing in the smoke.

“It’s dangerous, breathing in all that soot out of that plastic," Ferrell said.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is forecasting elevated levels of PM2.5 in the air due to the smoke.

The tiny particles are composed of microscopic dust, soot and liquid, that settle deep into the lungs and cannot be easily exhaled.

“It’s very concerning, especially with children that have asthma or any health issues," Sherri Inman said.

Inman and her daughter, Ariana, were in Richmond to run errands when the fire broke out Tuesday.

Inman says she’s already feeling its effects.

“I woke up this morning with a sore throat and a tight chest. I have lupus. Chemicals can really affect this disease. It’s an autoimmune disease," Inman said.

Inman spends a lot of time with her daughter at Glen Miller and other parks in and around Richmond.

She says with this week’s sun and warm weather, she’s concerned for the children outside playing.

“All the kids crawling around, having that soot on their hands, taking it back home with them. It’s highly toxic," Inman said.

An evacuation order for those within a half a mile radius of the site is still in place Wednesday.

Those outside the evacuation zone are to shelter in place — keep windows and doors closed, turn off HVAC units and keep pets inside.

As smoke continues to fill the air in Richmond, IDEM will monitor the air quality and weather patterns on a daily basis.