Smoke over Philadelphia not hazardous after junkyard fire, health officials say

A large fire that overcame a junkyard Tuesday afternoon in Southwest Philadelphia continued to smolder hours after firefighters gained control of the inferno that sent thick black smoke billowing across the city.

Fire crews from multiple departments responded to the construction waste recycling facility on the 3700 block of South 61st Street just before 4 p.m. Captain Derek Bowmer told reporters that the fire started in a heap of trash and quickly spread. 

"Wood, tires, things like that, when they break down houses. It looks like that’s what’s in the piles," said Captain Derek Bowmer of the Philadelphia Fire Department.


Nearly 100 firefighters responded to the blaze, including marine units that pumped water from the Schuylkill River to douse the flames.

"Access to the area is really tough. Just no hydrants inside so we were actually using both of our marine units that have drafted inside of the small bay back there," said Capt. Bowmer.

The fire struck a second alarm shortly after crews arrived as thick black smoke billowed across the city. The Philadelphia Fire Department tweeted that the fire was placed under control around 5:30 p.m. but crews continued to battle hot spots through Wednesday morning. 

Authorities say no toxic chemicals at levels hazardous to human health have been found at a junkyard fire in Philadelphia that spread huge amounts of smoke over the city. But health officials warned people Wednesday to limit their time outside because of particulate matter still in the air. That's especially true for people with heart or lung problems.

Fire investigators have not said exactly what sparked the blaze.



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