(Seguin) -- Emergency personnel worked several hours fighting a fire at CMC Steel Texas. A pile of scrap metal caught fire at about 7 a.m. Thursday at the steel mill located off of FM 1620.
CMC Spokesperson Susan Gerber tells KWED/Seguin Daily News that there were no injuries. Gerber says officials at the steel mill identified and initiated action to control the fire on one of its material feedstock piles. She says local fire departments were contacted immediately, and that no buildings at the facility, or the surrounding area, were threatened. The fire is now fully extinguished, but crews reamined on the scene late Thursday to deal with any hot spots.
Photo courtesy Scott Packard
Several fire departments responded to the fire, including the McQueeney, Seguin, Schertz, Marion, New Braunfels, New Berlin and Randolph Air Force Base fire departments.
McQueeney Fire Chief Tim Bogisch says the fire began in a pile that was approximately 30 feet high and about an acre wide.
"When I first arrived, the steel mill had a couple of their water trucks on scene trying to control the fire, knock it down. It was probably in a 50 x 50 foot part of the pile, so a relatively small portion of the pile, but they weren't able to tear it apart fast enough to get to what was burning. Basically, the way we're handling it is they have to pull the pile apart and we soak everything down and they just couldn't. The fire got into the bottom of the pile and they just couldn't pull it apart fast enough to get it," said Bogisch.
Due to the size of the fire, and the type of material burning, Bogisch says it presented a challenge for firefighters working to extinguish the flames.
"The biggest immediate challenge was the type of material that it was in. A pile of scrap metal, cars and whatever -- water just kind of runs off of it. So it's very difficult to extinguish it with water," said Bogisch.
While fire crews worked to battle the blaze on Thursday, Guadalupe County Fire Marshal Dave Padula was urging residents to protect themselves against the smoke that was traveling north.
"We have a very large fire that has a large plume of smoke and the plume of smoke is traveling as far north as New Braunfels. We've had reports of it being -- people feeling the effects of it as far as north of FM 1101 so far and up towards the New Braunfels area. This is going to be a long operation. We're going to be out here for a while. People having problems with the smoke, I suggest that they stay inside, try and stay away from the smoke as best they can. There is nothing we can do to control it at this time, but we're doing everything that we can to get this fire out," said Padula.
According to CMC officials, the company immediately contacted the appropriate authorities and has implemented ongoing efforts to assure that there was no threat to human health or the environment. While the smoke was described as non-toxic, it was still an irritant for some living or driving in the area.
Guadalupe County Emergency Management Director Dan Kinsey was also on scene and says he believes any environmental impact was insignificant.
“As automobiles are recycled, they remove the batteries, drain the tank, remove the tires and take out the materials that would not be good to be recycled,” said Kinsey. "The facility is far enough from the river that we don’t expect any of the runoff from the firefighting to drain into the river. We’re also building berms around the river to ensure that does not happen.”
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. However, fire officials do believe it was accidental.