Large Fire Burning At Ripley, TN Plastics Plant

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(Ripley, TN) Fourteen million pounds of plastic are burning right now in Ripley Tennessee.

It's because of a fire that erupted at a plastics recycling plant.

An EPA crew is on its way from Atlanta because the fire has been burning for hours and it's being fueled by plastic, which can be dangerous for those who live in the area.

The thick, black, menacing smoke is blowing South.

"I'm glad that it's not blowing in this direction," said Margaret Colvin, who is an elderly resident using an oxygen tank.

Anyone with breathing problems could be in danger going outside.

"You got a lot of plastics in there which could be dangerous when inhaling," said Ripley Fire Chief Felix Moore.

Even the firefighters, there from seven surrounding counties, are at risk.

That's why the EPA is bringing-in help as crews fight this massive fire.

"Our resources are in route now," said Steven Spurlin, the on-scene coordinator for the United States Environmental Protection Agency.  "Since it is going to take a while to put the fire out, we want to conduct some air-monitoring both at the work area and the perimeter and in the neighborhoods surrounding the facility."

Spurlin says particulates in the air are most dangerous for the young and elderly.

Police are driving up and down roads, making themselves available if anyone starts feeling sick.

"It's dangerous," said Local Resident David Martinez.  "It ain't good to breathe it."

 In the meantime, the EPA is also bringing in federal workers to help fight the fire that's been too dangerous for fire fighters to get inside of. 

Hazardous material contractors are coming in to smother the interior hot spots with soil.

"We are working as quickly as possible to address the fire itself," said Spurlin.

And the fire itself can be seen from ten miles away.

"All the thick black smoke and I know something was on fire," said Resident Patricia Stapinksi.

It's a fire that's devastated a business owner and left a community at risk.

The Ripley fire chief expects the fire to burn for the next couple of days.

The EPA recommends those with breathing problems to stay indoors. If you start coughing or suffering from shortness of breathe, call for help.

So far, the EPA says there have been no reports of people getting sick.