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It Smells Terrible Today Because A Recycling Plant Exploded Overnight
L.A. County Fire Department has decided to let a massive 'exotic metals' recycling plant fire in the city of Maywood burn itself out after attempting to put out the fire with water, according to KTLA. This fire is the reason why the air around most of L.A. smells so acrid this morning.
At precisely 2:31 a.m. on Tuesday morning, the L.A. County Fire Department received a call about a commercial structure fire at 3570 Fruitland Avenue in Maywood, close to the city's border with Vernon. About 75 firefighters initially responded to the three-alarm blaze, later increasing to 125 by 6 a.m., according to the L.A. Times.
When they arrived, firefighters found a pair of commercial structures on fire with flames through the roof. Firefighters attempted to put out the conflagration with water, but learned very quickly that there was burning magnesium inside. Mixing burning magnesium with water results in incredibly potent and bright explosions. If you saw an unexplained flash of light in the morning, it was almost certainly this:
"We have had some very violent, ferocious explosions in this facility," said L.A. County Fire Chief Daryl Osby at a morning press conference. "We have several unknown products that are burning, and we have a cadre of exotic metals [like] magnesiums, coppers, zincs, leads, along other chemicals. In addition to that, we have the facility itself."
Osby said that approximately 40 people were evacuated from the area immediately south of the flames because of concern about unknown toxins in the fire's smoke plume. He also said that analysts from the Air Quality Management District were dispatched to conduct "plume analysis," and determine whether or not the evacuation area needs to be expanded.
"The plume behind me is an unknown cadre of exotic metals," said Osby. "We're getting hazmat personnel suited up to go inside to make an assessment of what chemicals and metals are burning, so we're making a decision of how to put it out."
On the flip side, County firefighters successfully protected residential buildings just to the south of the blaze, as well as other surrounding commercial buildings. Two commercial buildings were lost, and there are no reported injuries.
As for the acrid smell, folks from South L.A., Downtown L.A., parts of the westside, and even the Valley have reported getting a scent.