It took more than 70 firefighters, almost eight hours, and more than half of a million gallons of water to extinguish an intense fire that broke out at the Jacksonville Metal Recycling Center early Sunday morning.
JFRD spokesperson Eric Prosswimmer said the fire started sometime after 4 a.m. and could not be fully extinguished until after 11 a.m.
“This is a large pile of metal that is sharp. You have to worry about getting cut. You have to worry about various things like that,” Prosswimmer said. “Just getting to the seat of the fire is the difficult task here.”
Between 70 and 80 firefighters were called or rotated in shifts to manage the three-alarm fire, according to Prosswimmer.
JFRD had to pump between 3,000 and 4,000 gallons of water a minute for 3 hours to make sure there was a constant flow of water on the pile of recycled metal. On the low end, that equates to 540,000 gallons of water.
“There are voids inside the pile that our water could not get to,” JFRD spokesperson Eric Prosswimmer said a few hours after the fire started. “If we leave it without putting water on it, then it will just re-flame back up.”
No one was hurt and no other buildings were affected, but the smoke was extremely thick and a widespread haze blanketed much the area, making it difficult to read business and road signs.
Sky4 video showed firefighters hitting hot spots on a pile of recycled metal that was the center of attention for much of the operation.
The long-lasting fire caused responders to shut down nearly a mile stretch of Philips Highway. It reopened by 11:30 Sunday morning.