Smoke advisory issued after blaze at Ontario recycling facility

Firefighters worked to clean up a smoldering fire Saturday at an Ontario waste recycling facility that has released so much smoke that air quality officials issued an advisory.

The blaze destroyed several structures on the property and sent an enormous black column of smoke into the sky when it broke out Friday night, feeding on mounds of tightly bound bales of trash, according to Capt. John Sitar of the Ontario Fire Department. 

It took about 80 firefighters and nearly 20 trucks, many from neighboring agencies, to contain the fire, Sitar said.

Flames also took down electric lines and knocked out power to some surrounding businesses and homes. About 200 residents were forced to evacuate, and the South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory for Friday night and Saturday morning.

On Saturday, firefighters revved up bulldozers and heavy machinery to rip open burning trash bales and stamped out hot spots around the eight-acre property. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries fighting the blaze. A woman observing the fire suffered minor smoke inhalation when the winds shifted.

All evacuated residents were allowed to return to their homes by Saturday morning. Most of the flames have been extinguished, and the smoke is fading, Sitar said.

“It’s no longer a very dark black and has faded to a very light brown,” Sitar said.

Officials have not yet estimated the damage from the fire, but the recycling yard’s products are a “total loss,” Sitar said.

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