In late July, two different fires burst out in automotive scrap yards in two different states. Both of these fires got their start in places where scrap automotive parts were being stored.
Emergency crews became aware of the first fire about 5:30 in the morning on Wednesday, July 26,2015. This fire was at CMC Steel Texas scrap yard in McQueeney, Texas and started in a car that was buried in a pile of scrap metal. According to the Seguin Gazette, this fire quickly grew to major proportions and it required the skill of firefighters from 15 local fire departments to contain and control the fire. It also required the expertise of firefighters from nearby Randolph Air Force Base in order to finally put the fire out. Susan Gerber, a spokeswoman for CMC, said that the fire was contained to the scrap pile it started in, and no one was injured and no other buildings were damaged in the blaze.
The next day, July 27, 2015, around 5:15 A.M. a second fire started in the Hanover, North Carolina scrap yard of OmniSource Corporation. This fire was started by a stray ember that came from a fire that had been extinguished by OmniSource workers in one of the scrap yard’s crushers on Wednesday the 26th. Water pressure to fight this fire was a problem when firefighters first arrived because a water pump had been switched off during the repairs to the crusher on Wednesday. Once the pump was operational, firefighters were able to extinguish the fire within 30 minutes. New Hanover County Fire Marshal Ray Griswold reported that there were no buildings or other property damaged in the North Carolina fire.
Lithium Battery Concern
While neither fire was caused by lithium batteries, the storage of these batteries is a cause of concern for auto salvage yard owners. George Adams of SA Recycling in Anaheim, California recently reported to the 2015 BIR World Recycling Convention that improperly stored lithium batteries can cause considerable fires in automotive scrap yards. As a result of Mr. Adams’ work, auto salvage yard owners are starting to be make sure that they store these batteries in safer ways to help ensure that they are not the cause of a scrap yard fire.
Fire department officials in both the Texas and North Carolina fires believe that the concrete containment areas where both of these fires started, helped to prevent these fires from spreading into other areas and causing significant damage. Auto scrap recyclers who value their property and want to prevent future fires will make sure that lithium batteries and any other flammable materials are stored in these contained concrete storage places to help keep fires from destroying their yards.
While concrete containment areas were effective in these fires, fire department officials have said that they will be fully investigating both of these fires to see what other measures might be put into place to help prevent future fires. How those measures will impact auto scrap yards remains to be seen, but the new measures should help prevent fires like these from occurring again.