A thick blanket of white smoke from a three-alarm fire Saturday in Puyallup that burned a cold storage facility will likely linger for several days, according to fire authorities.
Shortly after 1 p.m. Sunday, Central Pierce Fire & Rescue requested people in a 1-mile radius of the downtown Puyallup fire again shelter in place due to smoke, later clarifying that this was an advisory rather than an order. The advisory was lifted shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday, but streets around the fire remained closed, with no estimate of when they would open.
The fire at Washington Cold Storage and its aftermath also disrupted Amtrak train service Sunday.
Emergency workers were using excavators to tear down the building’s walls on Sunday, so fire crews could get more direct access to the smoke and fire.
An earlier shelter in place order had been lifted Sunday morning after the Washington Department of Ecology, which monitored local air quality overnight, deemed it safe, Central Pierce Fire & Rescue Capt. Darrin Shaw said.
“Their readings are the reason why we lifted it,” he said.
Still, he cautioned people to avoid the smoke. On Sunday morning, the smoke was blowing to the east, but the wind changes direction frequently, Shaw said.
Central Pierce Fire & Rescue said on social media midday Sunday that the fire is “very dynamic. At times throughout the day, you will see large amounts of smoke/flames.”
“Right now this community just needs to remain indoors if possible and stay away from the smoke,” Shaw said in an interview Sunday morning. “Just like if it was brush fire smoke, we just don’t want people in it.”
Passengers on a northbound Amtrak train Sunday were told that train service between Tacoma and Seattle had been suspended due to the fire. The train stopped in Tacoma and passengers were taken the rest of the way on buses.
Shaw said there is no risk from the toxic, explosive anhydrous ammonia at the site that prompted evacuations in a 1.1-mile radius from the fire Saturday. Reverse 911 calls were sent to some 10,000 people.
No injuries were reported, said Shaw, who described the fire in the 100,000-square-foot structure as “by far the biggest I’ve ever been to in 27 years.”
With the fire still smoldering, firefighters were standing by to douse flare-ups. They will likely continue to do so for days until crews can bring in heavy equipment to tear down the remaining walls, clear away large debris and completely extinguish the fire, he said.
The public was asked to continue avoiding the area.
Seattle Times staff reporters David Gutman and Megan Burbank contributed to this report.