COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — A large fire broke out at a waste management facility in Commerce City on Thursday afternoon.
The fire burned into Thursday night and was smoldering on Friday morning. Smoke could be seen for miles across the Denver metro area.
The fire broke out at the Denver Disposal and Recycling Transfer Station on Brighton Boulevard before at 4 p.m.
Firefighters arrived at about 4:10 p.m. and started spraying water on the flames.
The fire started spreading to at least two structures at the Waste Management facility at about 4:15 p.m.
No people or firefighters were injured. Crews continued to put water on the smoldering piles on Friday morning.
Workers said chemicals from the garbage create pockets of gas, and hot temperatures heated the gas and ignited the fire. While small fires are common at the site, such a massive blaze was a surprise.
“I’ve been putting garbage in here for over nine years and there is always little tiny things like this. Things like this can happen but never really this big,” Juan Avina said.
Firefighters used front loaders to break up the trash to get to hot spots burning deep down in the trash piles.
People in the wind’s path were advised to shut their doors and windows, and turn off air conditioning to stop the smoke from getting sucked into homes.
“Quite amazing,” nearby resident Albert Petersen said. “We work right down the street from it. I actually think it was quite interesting to see something like this close up.”
The National Weather Service in Boulder said the smoke plume was visible on its radar at about 5:10 p.m.
Our radar is showing the smoke plume from the fire in Commerce City moving out of the east-northeast 2kft off the ground #cowx pic.twitter.com/ukPCfAbW5V
— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) June 15, 2017
Drivers were urged to avoid the area.
“It’s pretty dark and as we were coming in, you could smell like a plasticky rubber burning,” passerby Corey Mortimer said. “It has a different smell to it for sure.”