Emergency Officials Discuss Cleanup Efforts After Huge Plant Fire

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KFSM) — We're learning more about what lead to a massive industrial plant fire in Bentonville.

On Wednesday (Dec. 4) emergency crews sent out an air quality alert as smoke filled the sky in several Northwest Arkansas cities.

The fire ignited at United Industries, a plastic fabrication company on MLK Parkway and emergency officials held a press conference Thursday (Dec. 5) to address what exactly happened.

During the press conference, we learned a big concern for crews working the aftermath of this fire is the chemicals and toxins that were present in the fire.

The air quality is also another big concern and officials say they are testing the air continuously for any signs of danger.

Clean up is underway and crews are working to restore and replace powerlines that melted during the fire.

Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Boydston says it takes over 1200 degrees of heat to melt powerlines.

Three of the four silos collapsed in the blaze and Boydston says small polystyrene beads were inside. He says over time those beads heated up, melted and then ignited, weakening the silos and causing them to come down.

Boydston says now his crews are testing air quality under the supervision of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality because when burning those beads, carbon monoxide and other toxins could be an issue.

“We test for carbon monoxide oxygen levels and things of that nature, and sure to the intensity of the fire upon our arrival if you’ve seen any pictures of the plumes it was a rapid rate of rise by the time it cleared any vacant property it was well over 200 feet in the air,” Boydston said.

Crews are continuously testing the air quality around the site and so far they say there are no signs of potential danger from the aftermath.

The deputy fire chief says they used over a half a million gallons of water to extinguish the fire yesterday, so there's still a lot of clean up to do.

There was also concern over the water used in the fire and if it was contaminated after coming into contact with chemicals. The fire chief says most of the water evaporated and then the excess runoff was able to be disposed of in a detention pond at a nearby construction site.

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