louds of billowing black smoke, visible for miles this afternoon after a fire sparked at Metalico Aluminum Recovery. The fire started next to the recycling plant, in a pile of debris containing household goods, scrap metal and rubber, causing neighbors to notice an unusual smell amidst all the smoke.
Virginia White, Dawn Gallup and William Cavalier all were witnesses to the fire. "Oh yea, it was a chemical smell. I kept my window up, but you could still smell it coming through the vents, so it was pretty heavy, very very heavy," says Gallup.
"It had the smell of an electrical fire or a rubber factory burning," says Cavalier.
"I was over this way and then I looked over and I thought it was one of the high schools or elementary school over there," says White.
Officials say they don't know what caused the pile to catch fire, but they're investigating the fire now, searching for answers.
Once they got close enough to the flames and billowing smoke, there was no mistaking that those sights and smells were coming from right here at Metalico Aluminum Recovery here in Dewitt.
"Instantly we knew before we even got to Thompson that it was the Metalico, because of the amount of the smoke and the flames -- it was devastating. Then by the time we actually got to Thompson Rd and James there was all kinds of spectators, people taking pictures," says Gallup.
The DEC says there are no health risks from this fire, despite the rubber and metal burned. Seven area departments, including a foam unit from the Syracuse fire department, worked for more than four hours to fight the fire, keeping it from spreading to the plant. Investigators have since been sifting through the debris, looking for answers as they try to understand what started the fire.