Springfield residents say industrial fire “lit up the entire sky”

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It was midnight, many residents fast asleep, until a loud noise erupted through their quiet neighborhood.

Families were woken up, some forced to evacuate after two trailers caught fire outside of Joseph Freedman Recycling on Stevens Street. Inside were magnesium chips, a type of metal that’s nearly impossible to quickly extinguish with water. The flames spread to a tractor trailer, illuminated the night sky, and filled the air with thick, black smoke.

Robert Dulude lives on Eureka Street, adjacent from Stevens Street. He told 22News thinking about the fire just makes him angry. “I mean, those things are being stored virtually right next to home, 15-feet from my next door neighbors house, my house is 150-feet away. If it had gone a little bit differently, it could have gone right down the street and burned everybody’s house down,” he said.

Many of the residents, who live nearby, like Tanya Scurry, described the night as absolutely terrifying. “I just saw the flames, and the smoke. The cops were starting to come down and then one came running down to my house, and he said to evacuate. You didn’t have to ask me twice, I was scared, I wanted to get out,” she said.

For many of these residents, this fire wasn’t a first. In 1999, three workers were killed and nine others injured during an explosion at the old Jahn Foundry factory close to their neighborhood.

No one was injured this time, but neighbors, like Maryellen Donovan told 22News the scare was too close for comfort. “The first explosion went off, and it was like day light. It was really scary because I have a ton of oxygen in my house, and right after the bright light you could see the tall flames,” she said.

The sounds of exploding heard by neighbors were likely due to the metal burning itself. Firefighters remained on Stevens Street until the fire had burned out completely, which wasn’t until late Saturday morning.

22News called John Freedman, the President of Joseph Freedman Recycling regarding the fire and neighbors concerns. He declined to comment.

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