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Firefighters warn of ‘inhaling fumes’ after fire at Tacoma scrap metal yard

Firefighters fight scrap metal fire on Tacoma Tideflats

A metal scrap yard caught fire in Tacoma early Monday, according to the Fire Department. Smoke from the fire has blanketed downtown Tacoma.
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A metal scrap yard caught fire in Tacoma early Monday, according to the Fire Department. Smoke from the fire has blanketed downtown Tacoma.

A metal scrap yard caught fire Monday and blanketed Tacoma with the acrid smell of burning plastic.

The blaze in the 2200 block of East River Street started about 2 a.m., sending huge plumes of smoke billowing into the air.

By 8 a.m., firefighters had extinguished the flames but were working to cool down the scrap metal.

“If in the area, caution should be used to avoid inhaling fumes,” the Fire Department said on Twitter.

Lithium-ion batteries spontaneously combusted and ignited the scrap pile, fire officials said.

The state Department of Ecology and the federal Environmental Protection Agency responded to monitor the air.

Air quality ranged from moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups, but returned to normal levels by 4 p.m., according to the Ecology Department.

The Port of Tacoma shut down all terminal operations until about 1 p.m. before returning to normal.

Nobody was injured during the blaze.

EPA officials collected samples to see what particulates made it into the air, but test results won’t be available for several days. Water near the scrap metal yard was also tested and found to be safe.

Teams of workers from the California Department of Toxic and Substance Control clean up hazardous material from the Carr Fire on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018.

Stacia Glenn; 253-597-8653
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