Video: N.M. firefighters battle massive plastics storage site fire
Officials released a health alert due to the smoke from the Albuquerque fire
By Ryan Boetel
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A large fire at a plastics storage facility south of the Albuquerque International Sunport sent a massive plume of black smoke into the sky, which could be seen across the city.
City and county officials issued a health alert Sunday evening, advising people to limit outdoor activity throughout the county because of hazardous pollutants that are burning.
Albuquerque Fire Rescue responded at around 3 p.m. to the 5300 block of Hawking SE. The Bernalillo County Fire Department also responded to the blaze.
There were no fatalities reported, according to an alert from AFR. The department said on Twitter that the fire was burning “structures, product and vehicles.”
At the scene, officials had blocked off the roads around the company where the fire started. Dozens of people gathered at the edge of the police perimeter in the Mesa del Sol area to watch the fire. Police and fire officials later ordered the crowd west several blocks to University Boulevard.
Flames could be seen torching what appeared to be a field of plastic materials at the complex. AFR said Sunday afternoon that the fire wasn’t under control.
The city of Albuquerque’s Environmental Health Department asked people to avoid the area.
“The fire is at a facility that stores plastics. Please avoid the area,” the department said on Twitter. “For respiratory health, stay inside keep windows and doors closed. If needed for comfort, use air conditioners on recycle/recirculation mode.”
The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Program issued a health alert due to smoke from the fire. Plastics that are burning contain hazardous air pollutants, said the health alert, which is in effect from 5 p.m. Sunday until 10 a.m. Monday.
“This smoke is unhealthy for everyone and people should limit outdoor activity tonight in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County,” said the alert.
Matt DeMaria, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said the forecast called for westerly winds to carry the smoke east over the city Sunday evening. He said overnight the winds were expected to blow the smoke into the South Valley, and temperature inversion could make for more unhealthy conditions tomorrow morning.
“All (the toxic pollutants) could be trapped lower in the atmosphere, which could potentially pose a health risk,” he said.