Massive Fire Causes $10 Million in Damages


"Polyethylene piping is what it is.  It does produce formaldehyde, which is also a cancer-causing thing. That's why we're asking people to shelter in place.  The smoke calm, the nice thing is with the weather we're having, the smoke calm is going straight up in the air so it's dissipating rapidly.  So its just a precautionary measure."

 
-Richard Ratcliff, Natrona County Fire Chief

Firefighters from Natrona County District One respond to a Mills fire that started shortly after midnight. Plastic pipes went up in flames early this morning and officials say this is the largest fire they've seen in the area.

The fire occurred at a WL Plastics storage area just off Pyrite Road causing an estimated $8-10 million dollars in property damage.

When units arrived, about 8 million pounds of plastic pipe were afire. Fire officials were able to save surrounding buildings and only the plastic piping was consumed.

Richard Ratcliff, Natrona County Fire Chief says, "at the time we had two structures nearby that were threatened, we had power lines on the ground."

Officials cleared the area since the fumes can be harmful and possibly even cancer-causing. But due to weather conditions, the smoke went straight up into the air and dissipated rapidly.

The plastic is polyethylene piping and when burned, can produce formaldehyde, which is also a cancer-causing chemical. Officials are asking people remain indoors as a Code Red warning has been issued.

Surrounding businesses were also asked to close for the day by officials due to the dangerous conditions.

Brad Hall of a nearby business, Spidle Turbeco, says, "we had to call customers and let them know that we had a motor bill that was supposed to ship today, but because of this fire and the power outage, we were not able to ship that motor like it was planned."

Three power poles and power lines caught fire and collapsed around 1 AM, causing more than 760 Rocky Mountain Power customers to lose power... Including Casper-Natrona County International Airport. Needless to say, this had fire officials off to a slow start.

Ratcliff says, "power lines on the ground really hampered the crews trying to get to the fire. Once we got the power secured, we were able to start attacking the fire more aggressively."

Help from many jurisdictions rushed to the scene this morning to help extinguish the flames.

Ratcliff continues, "we had assistance from casper fire, bar nunn fire, mills fire, wyoming medical center came out with an ambulance as well. And then we also have fire rehab with the health department and sheriff's office."

Though, as always, the important thing to note here is that no one was hurt.

Airport Public Safety Chief Mike Hendershot says the facility briefly lost power between 2:00am and 3:00am. Hendershot says no flight delays are expected. The cause of the fire is still unknown, however an investigation that could last days continues to be led by the Natrona County Sheriff's Office.
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Follow Tony Cedrone on twitter @tony_p_said


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