St. Louis Fire Department tests air quality following recycling plant fire, finds nothing toxic

A smoky haze reminiscent of a bad house fire covered St. Louis much of Wednesday

Alex Degman
March 11, 2020 - 8:58 pm

ST. LOUIS / MADISON, Ill. (KMOX) -- A nose-catching haze over most of St. Louis is being blamed on a fire at a recycling plant in Madison -- some in the city were wondering if it was dangerous to breathe.

"It's a cold smoke, if you will, which has a little bit of a heavier odor," Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson told KMOX.

Wind caught the smoke from the fire and blew it across the river. The fire department tested the smoke with its air monitoring equipment.

"According to our air monitors, it is not [dangerous]. We're not picking up any type of dangerous atmosphere that would register on our machines," Jenkerson said. "We're not getting any readings at all."

Jenkerson says those air monitoring tests were conducted at fire department headquarters near Jefferson and Cass, and a few other fire stations around the city.

The first call came just after 2am at InterCo recycling on Fox Industrial Drive in Madison.

No one was hurt, but Mayor John Hamm says in his 24 years in office, this is probably the biggest fire the city has seen.

"(There was) quite a bit of damage," Hamm said. " We actually called in three more pieces of apparatus because it's getting into (another) warehouse. (The fire) was getting into that warehouse so they called in extra equipment."

Hamm says three buildings collapsed because of the fire, which is still under investigation.

KMOX's Brian Feldman contributed to this report.

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