No harmful toxins found from Philadelphia junkyard fire, but smoke still a concern

In an update Wednesday afternoon, officials said there are "no toxic chemicals at levels that would be harmful to your health."
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Philadelphia Department of Public Health says there is no immediate danger in the air after Tuesday's massive junkyard fire, but there is still a reason for some people to take caution.

In an update Wednesday afternoon, officials said there are "no toxic chemicals at levels that would be harmful to your health."

However, health officials still urged residents to be mindful of the lingering particles in the air.

"People who are near the smoke or haze should limit their time outside, especially if they have heart or lung problems. Due to the weather, this situation could last through the night," said Philadelphia Public Health on social media.

Thick black smoke that was seen Tuesday transitioned to a lighter color Wednesday as fire crews continue efforts to cool the material that was burning.

A lot of the smoke has dissipated over the course of the day, but the smell of what was burning at the junkyard was still in the air.

"This morning out walking my dog, I can smell the burning rubber scent in the air. This morning early on you could see the smoke," Sarah Matthews of Southwest Philadelphia said.

Matthews says she wore a mask earlier because the smell was so strong.

"It's not just a smell of burning wood, it's burning rubber and you think that that's chemicals and plastic, so definitely a concern," Matthews said.

Officials said the junkyard is used to recycle big items, including large pieces of wood and other materials.

Firefighters were called around 3 p.m. Tuesday to the 3100 block of 61st Street near Lindbergh Boulevard in Southwest Philadelphia.

Hundreds of tires could be seen from Chopper 6 burning and adding fuel to the fire.

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Chopper 6 flies over a massive junkyard fire in Southwest Philadelphia on Nov. 9, 2021.

It took crews roughly two and a half hours to get it under control as the huge plumes of smoke hovered over the city during rush hour.

"We were at two alarms, which is about 50 apparatuses and about 75 firefighters and medics," said Captain Derrick Bowmer of the Philadelphia Fire Department.

Officials said it started with small fires in several piles of debris that were at least six stories high.

Crews were forced to keep a safe distance while spraying water and foam due to the intensity of the flames.

Smoke from the two-alarm blaze could be seen all over the city and even across the Delaware River in New Jersey.

"I work down in these yards all day long and I've never seen anything in my life like that," said Keith Knighten of Southwest Philadelphia.

Police continue to block several side streets and intersections along South 61st Street around the fire scene Wednesday.

No injuries have been reported.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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