Ellwood City fire contained; employees monitoring

The lithium fire at Inmetco in Ellwood City has been contained

ELLWOOD CITY, Pa. (WKBN) – Inmetco workers are watching hot spots on the west side of the building after a fire started at the Ellwood City business Sunday morning.

An Inmetco employee called 911 just before 9 a.m., and firefighters worked until around 5 p.m. to put the fire out.

“If the fire gets to be too big for [Inmetco employees] to contain, they are going to call us and we’ll go back and do the proper things that we need to do to make sure the fire stays where it’s at,” said Ellwood City fire chief Rick Meyers.

When Meyers and nearly 20 other fire departments got to the plant at around 9:00 a.m. Sunday, heavy smoke was already filling the sky.

“There were multiple explosions, projectiles that were flying through the air, heavy smoke in all areas of the building and from that point on, we tried to contain the fire at the building of origin,” he said.

Employees at the recycling plant were inside the building when it started but none of them were injured.

This isn’t the first time emergency responders have been to Inmetco to put out a fire.

“They’ve tried multiple times to keep this from happening. This is, I think, the third or fourth time we’ve been there. With the material they deal with, it’s very hard to do,” Meyers said.

Controlling the fire was also hard. Chief Meyers said four firefighters were treated for minor chemical burns on their hands.

“The biggest thing is exhaustion. Being in that building, the building holds the heat, the guys get hot, they get beat down,” he said. “We’re trying to rotate as many guys through as we can.”

There’s no word yet on what caused the fire.

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