1 of 2 | A large plume of black smoke billows Tuesday from a fire at a plastics recycling plant in Indiana. Residents in the city of Richmond were instructed to evacuate or shelter in place because of air quality concerns. Photo courtesy of Indiana State Police Pendleton District
April 11 (UPI) -- A large fire at a plastics recycling plant in Indiana, which produced heavy black smoke that could be seen for miles, has forced thousands of residents to evacuate or shelter in place.
Wayne County Emergency Management Agency said no injuries were reported Tuesday at the Richmond plant, but officials warned more than 2,000 residents to evacuate or shelter in place, as they expressed concerns about air quality.
"The Indiana State Police Pendleton District is currently assisting Wayne County Sheriff's Department and the Richmond Police Department with a factory fire at an abandoned Hofco building," Sgt. Scott Keegan said in a tweet Tuesday afternoon that showed video of the massive black plume of smoke.
"We are currently evacuating a radius of 1/2 mile from the site. Please avoid the area,"
"Those outside of the 0.5 mile and downwind of the incident are encouraged to shelter in place," Richmond Mayor Dave Snow added in a Twitter post.
The mayor said shelter in place means people should turn off HVAC units, keep all windows and doors closed, and bring pets indoors until further notice.
The plant is located near the Indiana-Ohio border and recycles materials, including plastics. There is still no information on what may have started the fire.
Richmond's mayor called it a "worst-case scenario" in a phone interview with ABC News.
"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," Snow said.
In an update Tuesday evening, Snow said the fire had been contained to three areas.
"We have received word from [the fire chief] the industrial fire on the city's northwest side has been contained on three sides. They are working to contain the East side to prevent spread," Snow said in a tweet.
Less than an hour later, Snow said officials were still evaluating the hazards from the heavy smoke.
"Just spoke to our fire chief. Environmental Protection Agency and Indiana Department of Environmental Management are on site and evaluating any potential hazards resulting from the fire," Snow said.