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Owner: Recycling Plant Building a 'Total Loss' After Fire

Updated: 02/03/2014 10:37 PM
Created: 02/03/2014 9:41 PM KAALtv.com
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 News) -- A building at Watson Recycling near Oronoco is being called a total loss following an afternoon fire. We talked with one of the owners who says it was an accident by one of his employees that started the fire and there was just no time to react.

Black smoke could be seen for miles as a 10,000 square foot building burst into flames Monday afternoon.

"One of the guys came running up and said call 911 there's a fire back there,” said Jeremiah Watson, Co-Owner and CEO of Watson Recycling.

Jeremiah Watson says he didn't realize how bad the fire was until he saw it. "I looked at our security cameras, it was literally three minutes from the time the fire started until it was just engulfed in flames,” said Watson.

Watson says the building is used for dismantling scrap vehicles and a worker was removing gas from a vehicle when it started on fire.

"There are multiple buildings and there are various recycling materials laying all around the site and so it was difficult to get traffic in and out,” said Fire Chief Jon Eickhoff, Pine Island Fire Department.

That wasn't the only obstacle fire crews had to deal with. Protecting surrounding equipment and getting enough water to the scene were priorities, not to mention, "After we arrived there were multiple small explosions,” said Eickhoff. Small explosions within the building, where several tires and other vehicle parts were stored, which explains the thick black smoke.

Owner Jeremiah Watson is calling the building a total loss. He says there is between $200,000 to $300,000 in damage. But still, Watson says it could have been worse.

"I’m thankful no one’s hurt. After looking back there, a lot of the equipment was damaged but it's replaceable, we're insured, so I think we'll be ok,” said Watson.

Pine Island Fire officials tell us the investigation is complete. The owner of Watson Recycling says their equipment companies will assess the damage of any surrounding equipment.