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Firefighters battle huge blaze near Fite Road

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Several motorist along Raleigh-Millington and Fite Road last Thursday had to wait for the road to be reopened by Shelby County Sheriff's Officers after firefighters from Memphis, Millington and Shelby County controlled a fire near Memphis International Raceway.

Several motorist along Raleigh-Millington and Fite Road last Thursday had to wait for the road to be reopened by Shelby County Sheriff’s Officers after firefighters from Memphis, Millington and Shelby County controlled a fire near Memphis International Raceway.

Dozens of area firefighters were called to the former Pollution Control Industries at 5485 Victory Lane just south of Millington to control a full commercial hazardous material assignment.
Five firefighters and two employees were injured from the fire at the waste management, recycling and hazardous waste plant outside of Millington last Thursday.
In the early moments after controlling the blaze, two firefighters were injured, with one from Shelby County Engine 68 taken to Methodist North Hospital in Memphis for heat exhaustion. Another firefighter from Shelby County Rescue 66 suffered a rotator cuff injury.
Then, reports came out that three other firefighters were taken to area hospitals for treatment of injuries related to extinguishing the fire.
The owners of the plant were on the scene after 50 to 60 firefighters from Memphis, Shelby County and Millington battled the chemical fire.
Located next to the Memphis International Raceway, the plant fire led to the cancellation of events that night at the race track.
Some of the first on the scene after the 4:37 p.m. call were firefighters from Engine House No. 6 located on Raleigh-Millington  Road within view of the blaze.
Reports were that a fire started in an area where flammable chemicals are stored. By the time firefighters arrived, thick, black smoke could be seen for several miles. After the smoke cleared, it appeared that the fire began in the center of the plant.
“All of these companies work hard staying in compliance,” Shelby County Public Information Officer Brent Perkins said. “All these companies work very hard at protecting the employees and  individuals around here. They call us if they want help improving their safety plans.”
The Hazardous Waste Management Program inspected Pollution Control Industries in recent years, with some violations found. All of the violations were corrected during follow-up inspections.
Shelby County fire officials said they had responded to the facility before, but for nothing of this magnitude. Engine House No. 6 has developed a working relationship with the companies nearby and, over the years, they have responded to multiple emergencies and fires.
Perkins said last week’s incident is the worst he has seen in 10 years. The fire led to the closing of Fite Road for more than an hour.  The road reopened about 6:05 p.m. One motorist trying to reach the Memphis International Raceway said he was sitting on Raleigh-Millington for several minutes.
The driver said he watched the skyline transform from huge black and orange clouds into gray smoke.

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