MetalX: Fire caused by torch-cut vehicle exhaust pipe

WATERLOO, Ind. (WANE) The Saturday fire at MetalX’s Waterloo plant that sent a plume of dark smoke into the air was caused by a hot pipe on a scrapped vehicle, the metal recycler said in a news release Monday.

Around 5 p.m. Saturday, crews from four fire departments were called to the MetalX plant at 295 Commerce St. in Waterloo on a report of a fire there. One witness told NewsChannel 15 flames were initially shooting 25 to 30 feet in the air, and black smoke could be seen billowing from a pile of metal for several miles.

Firefighters battle flames at Metal X in Waterloo on Aug. 26, 2017.

Firefighters from Waterloo, Auburn, Butler, and Corunna responded and watered the file as workers with heavy equipment pushed the pile around. No injuries were reported and there was no damage to property or equipment.

MetalX said in a release on Monday that the source of the fire was traced to a load of obsolete scrap that was received Saturday morning. The fire was believed to be sparked by a hot vehicle exhaust pipe that had been torch cut by the supplier to remove a more valuable item, the release said.

The scrap was reportedly inspected when it arrived, and it was marked as a concern and separated from other raw materials, the release said. It was sprayed with water before a shift change at 3:30 p.m., and “no further issues were reported until the fire broke out later,” MetalX said in the release.

MetalX Vice President of Operations Clyde Billips said in the release that the fire posed no danger to human or animal health because the facility does not accept any hazardous material.

MetalX said the fire was just the second since it opened in 2012.

“While any fire is one too many, this is only the second such incident since the facility opened in 2012,” said Billips. “We maintain stringent inspection, operating, and fire prevention control practices in our operations, so this is a very rare occurrence. In that regard, I’m proud of how our employees responded, and in conjunction with area fire fighters, were able to deal with the situation without injury or incident.”

MetalX resumed full and normal operation on Monday, the release said.