RICHMOND, Ind. – A raging inferno broke out on Tuesday afternoon, engulfing an abandoned Hofco building on 358 NW F Street in Richmond, Indiana. The massive fire produced a thick, black smoke cloud that billowed into the sky, leaving residents scrambling for safety.
According to Richmond Fire Department Chief Tim Brown, the fire started in a semitrailer parked behind the building, loaded with plastics. The blaze quickly spread to the building, which was also full of plastics, creating a dangerous situation for firefighters trying to gain control of the flames.
The intensity of the fire was so severe that all but one access road around the building was blocked by semitrailers and other plastics, making it challenging for the firefighters to extinguish the fire.
As a precautionary measure, Wayne County Emergency Management Director Matthew Cain issued a half-mile evacuation order for the immediate area, while those outside the evacuation zone were advised to shelter in place, close their doors and windows, and shut off HVAC units to prevent the smoke from entering their homes.
Despite the heroic efforts of the firefighters, one of them suffered an ankle injury while battling the blaze. Fortunately, no other injuries were reported.
The building fire was finally brought under control at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, but officials say it will smolder for several days. The abandoned Hofco building was formerly a lawn and garden products plant that had been in operation for 60 years, but closed in 2009 after losing its biggest client, John Deere.
In the meantime, Bethesda Worship Center has opened its doors to provide temporary shelter to those affected by the fire, while Indiana State Police Pendleton District is currently assisting Wayne County Sheriff’s Department and the Richmond Police Department with the incident.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.