Neighbors concerned about Omnisource fire

NOW: Neighbors concerned about Omnisource fire


New Carlisle, In. -- The fire at the scrapyard on Smilax Road in New Carlisle has been the site for numerous fires in the past, and even though the facility is under new management, some neighbors wish the facility would leave the area for good. 

Fire crews from Indiana and Michigan were called out to the massive fire around 3:17p.m. on Tuesday. They fought the blaze well into the evening, with the fire finally being extinguished around 6:00a.m. It rekindled again this morning; crews were called out at 10:47a.m. but they cleared out about an hour later. 

While the cause of the fire is currently under investigation, the sheer size of the fire can be attributed to the fact that the facility deals with scrap cars.

According to John Antonucci, the director for Emergency Management Services in Saint Joseph County, "A crushed automobile may still have tires on it, that may still have fuel in it. Cars are inherently flammable just by the amount of plastic that goes into the construction of an automobile."

Neighbors complain that this is not the first time they have had to deal with fires from this scrapyard.

Alan Bealor, who has lived in New Carlisle the past five years, said "I want to say it was about maybe three years ago -- four at the most -- they had a pretty good fire out there and I want to slay that one lasted even longer than the one we had yesterday. I want to say that was a two day event."

The site has previously been described as a nuisance, some saying that fires have been a common occurrence. The property was purchased by Omnisource last year, and while this was the first major fire to happen at the facility under their watch, some neighbors are already fed up. 

Bealor said, "It probably wouldn't hurt for them not to rebuild and continue."

The thick black smoke that rose from the fire could be seen for miles around, and made some concerned about how safe it was to be outside.

“I couldn’t even tell you this afternoon if it’s still okay to be anywhere near to be breathing the air," said Bealor.

And residents now are worried about toxins from the fire seeping into the nearby farmland and ground water.

“For anybody around us, this should be a big concern with the soil, the water that we’re drinking," said Bealor. "I mean there’s a big water plan less than a mile from it. I would probably not recommend drinking any water any time soon, at least.”

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management said that smoke is inherently toxic, and can harbor inhalants, though they have not confirmed if the smoke coming from the fire was more dangerous than normal. 

According to the New Carlisle Fire Department, the fire is still under investigation. 

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