Huge Fire at Plainfield Township Plastics Plant

Hundreds of firefighters from three counties respond to blaze.

5 p.m. Update: Crews are getting the fire under control and will monitor hot spots throughout the night. Anyone with respiratory problems is urged to stay indoors until the smoke clears completely.

Original Post: A second plastics plant fire in two weeks sent billowing black clouds of smoke over Northampton County as crews struggled to contain a blaze at in Plainfield Township.

There have been road closings in the area and delays on Route 191.

The state Department of Environmental Protection along with a representative of the federal Environmental Protection Agency are at the scene to monitor air quality and make sure chemicals from the burning plastics don't contaminate local water supplies.

Much of the building's steel structure at 730 Bangor Road (Route 191) collapsed because of the fire's searing heat, according to the Morning Call. The blaze started before 4:30am.

Smoke from the fire darkened the skies as far away as Breinigsville near Routes 100 and 222, and downtown Easton Tuesday morning. One witness reported seeing a fireball from Interstate 78. Another reported seeing smoke from 25th Street on the Wilson/Palmer Township line and thinking that it resembled a tornado funnel cloud.

Tuesday's fire follows one at National Plastics in Palmer Township on July 15. It took firefighters about three hours to get that blaze under control.

Finding enough water to extinguish the fire is a problem in Plainfield Township as it was with the Palmer Township fire.

Tanker trucks came and went all morning, heading to fire hydrants across Plainfield Township -- the closest hydrants being located on Shady Lane off School Road -- and to a pond in Stockertown.

The trucks emptied water into large pools staged at the scene. The water was then fed to trucks battling the flames, which could still be seen in portions of the building around 11am.

Terry Maenza, spokesman for the Pennsylvania American Water Co., said Nicos had its own private water supply in a lagoon on the property.

"Needless to say, it didn't take long to empty out," he said. 

The company has an eight-inch water line running through the area, and firefighters tapped into hydrants in Stockertown to get at it, Maenza said. 

Maenza added his company recommended that local firefighters contact the Easton Suburban Water Authority to look into getting more capacity, something that happened in the Palmer fire last month.

Heavy equipment was brought in to demolish what's left of the building.

Emergency responders from throughout Northampton County, as well as Lehigh and Monroe counties and the Lehigh Valley International Airport -- about 60 fire companies with more than 200 people -- helped fight the fire.

There have been no reports of injuries.


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