Neighbors concerned about air safety after fire - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Neighbors concerned about air safety after fire

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LYLES, TN (WSMV) -

A top environmental group said they are worried about a fire that burned for two days at a federal "superfund" site this week.

The fire at the recycling center in Hickman County is out now, but neighbors have plenty of questions about what burned in thick black smoke that could be seen from miles away.

The Environmental Protection Agency has told neighbors it's safe to return to their homes. Despite that some neighbors and an environmental advocacy group still have concerns.

"At 10 o'clock this officer comes through and says everybody's got to leave, everybody's got to leave," said Ruth Adams on Wednesday, one of the residents who was evacuated. "It's poisonous, toxic gas that's fixing to explode."

The Industrial Plastic Company caught fire Wednesday morning, causing a massive plume of black smoke to fill the sky.

Adams said the EPA came into her house and tested the air quality to show her it's safe, but she's still questioning that.

"If someone makes the tiniest mistake, it's my life," she said Thursday.

The plant sits on a federal superfund site. It was given the designation in the late 1980s after decades of industrial use.

From 1880 until 1966, the land was home to the Wrigley Charcoal plant. It produced iron, charcoal and wood distillation products that left the soil and groundwater polluted even though the federal government and state spent years cleaning up the area.

According to the EPA website, it was not yet clean enough to get off the watch list.

The EPA said whether or not the fire will make that an even bigger problem is still unknown. Federal and state officials will start investigating that on Monday.

John McFadden with the Tennessee Environmental Council said he's concerned about the long-term impact.

"Certainly in the very short term, we don't know what the consequences are of that type of exposure," said McFadden.

In the short term, the EPS said it is available to anyone who wants to have their home's air quality tested.

For anyone who wants their home tested, the EPA has a command center located at the Lyles ball field near Maple Street.

The state fire marshal's office believes the fire was accidental, but the investigation continues to determine the cause.

The EPA is also building an erosion fence to keep any contaminated runoff from flowing into a nearby creek in the event of rain.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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