Five firefighters, two employees injured after plant fire - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Five firefighters, two employees injured after plant fire

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Crews responded to Pollution Control Industries around 4:30 p.m. Thursday. Crews responded to Pollution Control Industries around 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
As firefighters battled both a massive blaze and the sweltering temperatures, employees sweated it out watching the struggle. As firefighters battled both a massive blaze and the sweltering temperatures, employees sweated it out watching the struggle.

(WMC-TV) - Five firefighters and two employees were injured after a fire broke out in a North Shelby County plant that handles waste management, recycling, and hazardous waste generators.

Crews responded to Pollution Control Industries around 4:30 p.m. Thursday after reports that a fire started in an area where flammable chemicals are stored. By the time firefighters arrived, thick, black smoke could be seen for several miles.

After the smoke cleared, it became obvious that the fire began in the center of the plant.

"First of all, we had no toxic chemicals burning, but the flammable chemicals storage area was well involved," said Shelby County Fire PIO Brent Perkins.

The plant employees were sent to The Regional Medical Center with chemical burns, according to the Shelby County Fire Department. Five Shelby County firefighters also suffered injuries.

Two were treated for heat exhaustion, and one firefighter received treatment for a shoulder injury. Two other firefighters fell ill overnight. Three firefighters were discharged from the hospital Thursday night.

Memphis and Millington Fire Departments assisted Shelby County firefighters. The unified firefighting effort of 50 to 60 firefighters contained the fire to the plant site within an hour.

Authorities shut down traffic in the area near the plant in which the Memphis International Raceway and Charles Baker Airport are also located.

As firefighters battled both a massive blaze and the sweltering temperatures, employees sweated it out watching the struggle.

"We heard about it, his brother called us ... Hope he's okay," said Mamie James who came to check on her grandson who works at the plant.

James later learned her grandson was not injured.

Firefighters make regular visits to PCI and other industrial or manufacturing facilities to be prepared in case emergencies like this one occur.

There is still no word tonight on how the fire started.

The Action News 5 Investigators dug up some of the company's compliance history.

Hazardous Waste Management Program inspected Pollution Control Industries. Between 2007 and 2010, the company had nine minor violations ranging from a ruptured base drum to weekend inspection sheets not available.

All of the violations were corrected during follow-up inspections.

Shelby County fire officials said they responded to the facility before, but for nothing of this magnitude.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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