Explosions accompany fire at paper recycling plant

Explosions accompany fire at paper recycling plant

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Phoenix firefighters have contained a large fire at a recycling plant that sent a tall column of black smoke over the city at midday Tuesday.

The fire department sent dozens of units with nearly 100 firefighters to fight the blaze burning paper and cardboard in an outdoor storage area of the Arizona Pacific Pulp and Paper business.

The business is at roughly Grand Avenue and 21st Avenue. That's near the state fair grounds west of downtown.

Crews were seen using hoses and water cannons to tame the flames, turning the black smoking into gray. About a half-later, the smoke was hardly visible from a mile away.

The temperature outside today was near the 100-degree mark. Because of that, the fire was upgraded to a 2-alarm, to get more manpower on the front lines. That way they could rotate personnel and keep them hydrated.

Firefighters worked to protect nearby buildings from the flames. They had to shut down parts of Grand Ave and McDowell Road, as well as the rail line. At one point, the situation became explosive.

"You've got a lot of intense heat here, radiant heat and direct flame contact. I did hear the small explosions going off too, it wont be until later on when fire investigators on scene that we can help determine what was actually exploding," said Phoenix Fire Capt. Tony Mure.

"I don't know what exploded but there were actually two huge explosions and you could see the flames everywhere, there's obviously a ton of paper in the air, you can smell it, there's parts of burned paper flying everywhere," said witness Amy Gleich.

No one was hurt, and firefighters are expected to be out at the scene until 7 p.m. mopping up hot spots.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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