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A four-alarm fire broke out at a Brockton recycling center on Saturday.
A four-alarm fire broke out at a Brockton recycling center on Saturday.Handout

BROCKTON — A four-alarm fire ripped through a recycling plant here Saturday evening, releasing a dangerous plastic odor into the air, according to the city's fire chief.

Firefighters from about 10 nearby communities responded to the blaze, which was first reported at 5:30 p.m., Brockton Fire Chief Michael Williams said at the scene.

Televisions and computers are recycled at the building, making the smoke "extremely dangerous," Williams said. He said officials are monitoring the air quality.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, he said.

One firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion, Williams said. "It took one and a half, close to two hours before we had the heavy fire knocked out," he said.

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The building, 60 feet by 400 feet, was heavily damaged but it has not yet been determined if it will be torn down, Williams said.

"I can't say if it's a total loss or not but it looks like it is," he said.

At about 9 p.m., Williams said he expected the fire to be out within the hour.

In Brockton, four-alarm fires are not unusual because there are many old buildings in the city, he said.

If residents near the fire have trouble breathing, Williams urged them to call 911.

As the fire raged, black smoke billowed from the building and a scent that smelled like burnt tires wafted throughout the air, said Marc Garcea, co-owner of Tommy Doyle's Sportsbar & Pub, next to the recycling facility.

"The whole building was engulfed in flames," he said.

Garcea said he shut down the restaurant to patrons but kept it open for firefighters to use the restroom. He said he expects to fully reopen tomorrow.

Marilyn Cohen, 70, said she can't remember a fire that was this bad in the city.

"I was born and raised in Brockton and I've never seen anything like it," said Cohen, as she stared at the charred building.

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Katherine Landergan can be reached at katherine.landergan@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @klandergan.