Crews investigating massive South Richmond recycling center fire

Published: Nov. 1, 2014 at 12:02 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 11, 2014 at 6:03 PM EST
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Source: Facebook - Jenni Heins
Source: Facebook - Jenni Heins
Source: Twitter user ralphE7
Source: Twitter user ralphE7
Source: NBC12
Source: NBC12
The River City Recycling center in South Richmond is now partially back open after a fire burned part of the facility on Saturday.

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The three-alarm fire broke out shortly after 7 a.m. on Gordon Avenue. Enormous flames and smoke consumed the building. The billowing, black smoke could be seen for miles. Within an hour, 12 fire crews worked to control the inferno, fueled by plastic inside the facility. Firefighters couldn't enter the building because of the dangerous material inside. Crews bravely hovered over the seemingly unstoppable fire, shooting water from above. However, the heat of the fire was so powerful, the roof and walls collapsed. Viewers sent NBC12 pictures of the smoke from across the city.

"(The flames) were big. They were really high…The smoke became black, and it was just covering the whole sky... It was pretty crazy," described Jenni Heins, who works down the block from the massive fire.

Heins says her company almost decided to evacuate the area. "We were debating on whether we were going to leave for the day or not."

After three hours, crews declared the fire under control, still putting out hot spots and piling up the remnants of the building. Crews are working to assess the damage and cleanup the now completely burned, scrap metal and auto recycling center. No word yet on just what ignited the fire. River City Recycling has four centers throughout the Richmond area.

The cause of the fire still hasn't been established, but investigators said they believe the cause was electrical in nature, possiblyoriginatingg at a light fixture or electrical outlet.

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