GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - A massive fire is burning at an industrial park in Grand Prairie, west of Dallas. Firefighters are concerned about the toxic smoke and power lines that they said will come down at some point.
The fire at the Poly America plant near the President George Bush Turnpike just north of Pioneer Parkway started burning around 1 a.m. Wednesday.
Fire officials are advising people to stay away from the area as much as possible because of the toxic fumes.
Of course, there were people coming by all day Wednesday to look at the massive fire.
"As we were there, it got a lot bigger. The explosion that happened is what made it spread even more,” Eddwuan Smith said.
Flames and thick black smoke could be seen from miles away, and as far away as Waco, according to the National Weather Service. The plume was so large that the NWS captured it on the radar.
Witnesses said described seeing what looked like a fireworks show and said they heard explosions, possibly after the flames ignited paint in a railcar on the property.
"We happened to see the fireball so we stopped to see what was going on. I have medical training so I stopped to see since it was a pretty large explosion if anybody might need help," said Jennifer Borrell, a witness. "When the second fireball went off, I was in the field and I had to duck down because of the heat and people were running towards me, making sure everybody was okay and telling them, 'Stay out of there. It's gonna go again.'"
The Grand Prairie Fire Department said the fire was caused by high-tension power lines that fell down on plastic inventory that was being stored outside the facility. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
According to Poly America’s website, the company makes plastic film and trash bags. It also recycles plastics.
Firefighters have been working defensively to contain the blaze. They’ve used water and spray foam to try to keep the flames from spreading to a nearby lumber yard.
Fire and hazmat crews from Dallas, Fort Worth, and Grand Prairie worked for hours to contain the flames. Firefighters said there wasn’t enough foam to put out the fire.
One of their biggest concerns all morning has been the electrical towers that are threatened by the fire.
“Oncor has told me it’s not a matter of if but when they will collapse. That’s why we shut the highway down. It could have a domino effect. Once it goes, it could pull all the lines down for up to half a mile,” said Grand Prairie FD Assistant Chief Bill Murphy. “It’s one of those we don’t know what’s going to happen and that’s our biggest danger at this time.”
Oncor reports about 30 customers are currently without power in the area. That's down from about 600 earlier in the morning.
They said crews have de-energized the surrounding transmission towers and isolated this area to prevent any further outages.
Smoke from the fire is heading into the flight path for the DFW Airport and some flights may have to be rerouted as a result.
Fire officials are also concerned about toxic smoke. They encourage anyone with breathing problems or underlying health conditions to avoid the area.
No official evacuations have been ordered but people who live downwind are being urged to keep their windows closed and the people driving by in the vicinity of the fire are being told to keep their windows up in their vehicle.
State environmental experts are heading to the scene to evaluate the toxicity of the smoke.
Chief Murphy said the fire could be burning for most of the day if not longer.
“It’s going to burn for a couple of days. Even though the flames are lower once it burns down where it’s manageable, we have to get in there with frontend loaders and once we break up the debris all the plastic underneath is burning,” he said. “We’re going to have to clean out the entire section and wet it down with foam.”