Fire Destroys Frankfort Plant, Puts City Recycling On Hold

Jul 29, 2019

A fire at a Frankfort recycling plant continued to burn Monday afternoon as firefighters fought back the blaze.

Teams were dispatched to Werner and Son Recycling around 4:30 Monday morning after a passerby reported what they thought was a dumpster fire. Officials don’t know what caused the blaze, which tore down much of the east side of the building and left only the façade on the west.

Frankfort Assistant Fire Chief Ed Cripe says the fire was fueled, in part, by the materials brought there to be recycled.

“There was just copious amounts of fireload in there. So there was cardboard, plastic, things like that,” Cripe says.

Cripe also says the roof, which caved in earlier in the day, was blocking access to parts of the building that were still burning, so an excavator was brought in to remove debris. Its operator had to build a ramp over a railroad track to get there, because the road was blocked by fire hoses.

Cripe says any black, gray or brown smoke is a sign of material burning, but white smoke is a good sign. By around noon, the smoke was mostly white in the front half of the facility. But as the excavator started removing pieces of fallen roof and debris, puffs of dark smoke rose once more.

Mark Werner is a co-owner of the building. He says the recycling plant employed 30 workers.

“But that’s not the half of it. It’s all the people that bring stuff here, who are dependent on selling and moving,” Werner says.

Werner says no one was working at the plant when it started. He says a truck driver arrived at the plant around 4:45 a.m., at the same time as the fire department.

“It went very fast, from one end to the other,” Werner says.

Firefighters spent the day dousing the flames, cautious due to the highly flammable materials at the plant.

Frankfort Fire Department had called Lebanon for assistance in handling the blaze, as well as volunteer firefighters to cover the rest of the city while they worked.

No injuries have been reported at this time.

An advisory went into place Monday evening recommending shelter for residents near Werner and Son due to potential particulate matter from the fire. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is monitoring the particulate levels in the smoke from the structure fire.

The city has suspended recycling pickup for the rest of the week as a result of the blaze. In a press release, the city says the Frankfort Fire Department will investigate the fire.

This post has been updated.