KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Knoxville Fire Department says a large fire at a North Knoxville recycling and waste facility is contained, but continues to burn.
KFD spokesperson DJ Corcoran says the fire has been contained to an area of about two acres and is not expected to grow, but it will still be some time before the fire is out.
Evacuations began a few hours after the fire started at Fort Loudon Waste & Recycling at 2742 Hancock Street.
Residents on the south side of Morelia Avenue from Pershing Street to Cornelia Avenue are being evacuated to the Emerald Youth building on Central Avenue. This includes about 65 homes.
Officials don’t believe any nearby homes are in danger.
Buses are being used to get people away from the fire.
The following intersections are closed:
- Pershing at Cedar
- Pershing at Atlantic
- Pershing at W. Morelia
- Pershing at Radford
- Radford at W. Glenwood
- Pershing at Banks
- Atlantic at W. Glenwood
- Burwell at Harvey
- Burwell at Hancock
- Burwell at Cornelia
- Morelia at Cornelia
- North Street at McMillan
The Knoxville Fire Department is imploring people in the area who haven’t been evacuated to either shelter in place with your HVAC unit turned off or to move to an unaffected area.
The Knox County Health Department says anyone having problems with smoke exposure such as trouble breathing and chest pain that don’t resolve after going inside or after taking medication should seek medical care immediately.
“To protect your health, it’s important to remember that if you can see or smell smoke, move away from the area,” said Knox County Air Quality Director Lynne Liddington. “If you cannot move away from the smoke, shut your doors and windows and turn off your air conditioning units. If you are driving through the smoke, roll up your windows and turn your air conditioning to recirculate, so you are not drawing the smoke into the vehicle.”
KFD spokesperson D.J. Corcoran said no one has been injured.
Corcoran says crews currently believe the fire started when a forklift or another similar piece of equipment backfired and threw a spark. That spark ignited two pallets of compressed paper.
Workers at the facility tried to put out the fire but were unable to do so themselves.
The fire was originally an acre when crews arrived and has grown to about two acres since then.
The Salvation Army is opening up its gym at 409 N. Broadway to those people affected by the fire. They will provide food and air conditioning, but people are asked to bring a pillow and sleeping bag.
Knoxville Utilities Board says it has cut power to about 700 people in that area as a precaution.