Firefighters from Des Moines and several surrounding communities will likely remain on the scene of a fire at an abandoned recycling facility through the early morning Friday.
They were called to 1422 Scott Street shortly before 6:00 Thursday evening.
Thick, black smoke billowed from the Des Moines Reclamation and Recycling Center, which authorities say is filled with demolition and construction debris.
“This is an old recycling demolition business which has been out of business for quite a few years,” says Capt. Steve Brown of the Des Moines Fire Department.
People, curious about all the smoke, also descended on the area. Many watched the fire burn from the Southeast 14th Street viaduct, which was shut down so fire trucks could utilize the overpass.
In addition to battling the fire, firefighters fought the heat.
“It’s very taxing on our crews,” said Brown.
They’re familiar with the building, which sits in the shadow of the statehouse. They were here on July 4th, putting out another suspicious fire.
“There’s no power, no utilities, so I would say it’s suspicious,” said Brown.
Jan Groves doesn’t doubt someone started the fire either. She lives across the street from the facility. She says she’s called the city about cleaning up the “eyesore.”
“It doesn’t do a lot of good, it’s filled from floor to ceiling with debris.”
Some of the debris is believed to be toxic.
“It’s filled with asbestos siding, any kind of debris you can think of,” said Groves.
The possibility of toxins also kept firefighters at bay. Brown says they were positioned on the outside of the building, clear from the smoke.
The Polk County Assessor’s website lists Regency Capital, an investment group, as the owner of the building. But the City of Des Moines reportedly purchased it two months ago.