U.S. News


Indiana town remains under evacuation day after massive fire

The fire broke out in a facility in Richmond used to store plastics. Officials told people living within a half-mile of the fire to evacuate.
Posted at 11:14 PM, Apr 11, 2023

Nearly 2,000 residents of Richmond, Indiana, are unable to return to their homes a day after a massive fire broke out at a warehouse. 

The Richmond fire marshal said the fire started Tuesday afternoon and quickly spread from a semi-trailer to piles of plastic around the trailer. No injuries have been reported. 

People living in Richmond have shared videos and images showing the smoke and reporting that it can be seen from “miles away.”

Richmond Fire Chief Tim Brown said the warehouse, formerly the Hoffco Facility, is owned in part by the city and in part by a private citizen.

"He has been warned several times. We have an unsafe citation that was issued to him. We don't know exactly when that was but we were aware of the situation and we were dealing with the situation," Brown said.

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Richmond Mayor David Snow said the city knew the building was a fire hazard and that it was “a fear for us.” He said the city had declared the facility an unsafe building.“

That business owner is fully responsible for all of this, he said. “Everything that ensued here, the fire, the damages, the risk that our first responders have taken, the risk our citizens are under are the responsibility of that negligent business owner.”

Brown said Wednesday morning that crews struggled to reach the warehouse on Tuesday due to rubbish around the site. 

"The smoke is definitely toxic," said Indiana State Fire Marshal Steve Jones. The areas needing to evacuate may change based on the direction the wind carries the smoke, Jones added.

Residents just outside the half-mile evacuation radius, especially those downwind to the east, are being asked to shelter in place. They are also being asked to shut off power, heat and air conditioning.

The American Red Cross also is staffing an evacuation center.

Officials have been unable to say when it will be safe for residents within a half-mile to return home. 

Property owner Cornerstone has been contacted by Scripps News. We are awaiting their response.