Over 2,000 Indiana residents ordered to evacuate after fire ignites at recycling plant


(RICHMOND, Ind.) — More than 2,000 residents are under an evacuation order after a large fire broke out Tuesday afternoon at an Indiana recycling plant, officials said.

Any resident within a half-mile radius of the Wayne County plant has been ordered to evaluate due to the “large industrial fire,” local officials said.

The evacuation zone impacts approximately 2,011 residents, according to a representative from the Wayne County Emergency Management office.

Anyone who can see the large smoke plume from the fire should shelter in place, according to officials.

It is unclear how harmful the smoke is, officials said. No injuries or deaths have been reported amid the fire.

As of 6:30 p.m. ET, emergency officials told ABC News that the fire has been brought under control.

Richmond Mayor Dave Snow called the incident a “worst-case scenario” in a phone interview with ABC News Tuesday, while expressing concern for the air quality in the town.

“This is something we never wanted to see happen,” Snow said.

The plant, located near the Indiana-Ohio border, processes recyclables, including plastics.

“We want everyone to limit their exposure to that black smoke and stay far away from the area,” Snow said. “Not only is it a dangerous area right now … limiting your exposure to this black smoke is the best thing for your health.”

Richmond resident Aaron Stevens told ABC News he saw a “huge pillar of smoke” and heard “explosions and pops” from his home, located roughly a half mile from the plant.

“There is an odor, a burning odor,” Stevens said. “What is more disheartening is the fact that I’m hearing explosions and pops this far away.”

Stevens’ home is located within the evacuation zone, though he said he has opted not to leave because he is hobbled by a knee injury. The police officer and school board member said he has a plan if he gets another evacuation alert.

“If it gets to the point where I realize that this is really going to be unsafe, I’m within just a minute or two away from having someone come and get me,” Stevens said.

Richmond resident Brad Walton described what smelled like burning tires from his home, located about five miles from the fire.

“It’s just not a good smell,” Walton told ABC News, adding that he could see the smoke plume in Hamilton, Ohio, roughly 35 miles away.

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