Crews still battling fire at Boise recycling facility

The fire is to blame for Boise's "red" air quality
Posted at 3:07 PM, Aug 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-29 20:09:58-04

Boise Fire crews continue battling a fire at a Boise recycling facility off Diamond Street, more than 24 hours after it sparked.

The initial call came in at 2:19 Sunday afternoon, after a neighboring business spotting a massive pile of recyclable materials on fire.

"The main flames that we saw when we arrived on scene [Sunday] was from a huge stack of pallets about 50 feet tall," Boise Fire Battalion Chief Tom Lovell said. "It was fully engulfed and it was basically a firenado that was going up from that and people could see it from all over the city."

Limited fire hydrants in the area is making things more difficult for crews. Their focus now is lifting rubble from the huge pile to reach and extinguish the active flames under the surface.

"You have to be able to spread it out over a big area and wet every part of it down because until you do that, it'll burn for days or weeks," Chief Lovell explained.

And that means bad news for our air quality. Heavy smoke is visible across the Boise area, as the DEQ increased the air quality to the "red" category, prompting some organizations to cancel outdoor after school sports practices.

"When the fire was happening it was so hot that all that smoke and debris goes straight up into the air because of the heat," Chief Lovell said. " But now we're actually cooling the top and there's smoldering going on because there's embers burning down below. [It's] kind of like your fireplace when you throw water on it, it will just sit there and smoke and that cold smoke sticks a little bit closer to the ground and so that's kind of why it's hanging around here in the valley."

The owner of the recycling facility says they expect more than $100,000 in damage. The fire destroyed a shed, a chipper, and a semi truck and trailer.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.