Pile of cars sparked fire at Redwood City scrap metal facility

A fire that erupted at a scrap metal facility in Redwood City on Wednesday, sending thick plumes of smoke into the air, originated from a pile of cars, investigators said.

The blaze occurred at Sims Metal, located at 699 Seaport Blvd. The initial call about the fire came in around 2:59 p.m., according to the Redwood City Fire Department.

A battalion chief told KTVU that the source of the fire was a pile of cars that had burst into flames. These cars were brought to the facility the same day for recycling.

The fire emitted thick black smoke, which drifted into neighboring cities like Sunnyvale. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District warned of potential smoke impacts. Air district inspectors were on the scene to investigate.

Aerial footage from the scene showed heavy smoke billowing in the air as firefighters used ladder trucks to apply water to the blaze. Excavators and bulldozers were seen moving the metal debris in an attempt to calm the fire.

"I kind of smelled like burning metal and burning rubber," said Manuel Michel, who works next door. He said it wasn't the first time he had seen a fire at the scrap metal facility.

"You hear booms once in a while," he said.


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The battalion chief said that cars often catch fire at scrapyards due to fuel left in the tank or propane tanks left in the trunk during recycling, which can lead to explosions.

Michel said that his workplace provided respirators to help block out the smoke.

It took firefighters over two hours to extinguish the blaze.