EVERETT — A four-alarm fire tore through a metal recycling facility here Wednesday, officials said, causing an explosion and sending a thick plume of smoke into the air that could be seen from miles away.
The fire broke out shortly after 8 a.m. at the Schnitzer Steel scrap metal processing facility, which is used to shred cars, refrigerators, and other heavy pieces of metal. An undisclosed number of workers who were in the building when the fire started escaped unharmed, said Colin Kelly, a company spokesman.
“We’re very, very happy to report that all our employees got out safely, and so far there have been no injuries fighting the fire,” Kelly said.
As black smoke billowed into the air, a hazmat team was sent to the scene, said Jake Wark, a spokesman for the state Department of Fire Services.
The team was sent to “monitor air quality and identify any potential toxins from the fire,” he said. The team departed by early afternoon after finding “no substantial readings,” Wark said.
Everett Fire Chief Scott A. Dalrymple said the cause of the explosion was not clear. There were no injuries.
Schnitzer’s recycling plant is one of several industrial facilities that crowd the area, including an Exelon Generation plant and a solar facility. The company has locations throughout the United States and Canada, and its Everett facility is equipped with a mega-shredder, mobile shears, material handlers, and loaders, according to its website.
The extent of damage caused by the fire wasn’t immediately clear, officials said.
“I’m sure that it’s not going to be functional for a period of time,” Kelly said. “Unfortunately, until we get inside and evaluate what needs to be addressed, I can’t give you any idea what that time frame looks like.”
Kelly said the Oregon-based company holds monthly safety meetings and drills to prepare for emergencies.
Around 10 a.m., metallic fumes hung over the area as fire crews worked from ladders to extinguish the flames. Workers gathered in a parking lot across the street to wait out the smoke, donning medical masks to filter the air. They said the entire plant had been evacuated. The top half of the building that caught fire appeared charred. Heaping piles of scrap metal surrounded it.
🔺FIRE AT SCHNITZER STEEL 🔺— Mayor Carlo DeMaria (@Mayor_DeMaria) December 8, 2021
✔️ majority of the fire is extinguished. NO injuries reported
Thank you to @IAFFLocal143 @maldenfire @BostonFire @CambridgeMAFire @SomervilleCity FD @ChelseaFire_MA @CityofRevere @MassStatePolice hazmat, Cataldo, @MedfordMass FD for mutual aide. pic.twitter.com/NhqquK4c0b