A large cloud of dark smoke could be seen rising from the Tacoma Tideflats as the sun began to rise Monday.
An early morning fire at a Tacoma scrap-metal that sent billows of noxious smoke into the air was brought under control and air quality was improving, according to local and state authorities.
The fire started at about 2 a.m. at 2202 E. River St., according to the Tacoma Fire Department. It produced a dark plume several hundred feet high that could be seen from Interstate 5 after sunrise.
No injuries were reported, the department said. The department is not sure when the fire started. It was first spotted by a passerby, started, said Tacoma Fire spokesman Joe Meinecke. Combustion of lithium-ion batteries is the suspected cause of the fire, Meinecke said.
At about 2 p.m., the health department said air quality in the area had improved. The department advised people to stay inside if they notice smoke or a burning smell and to set heating and air conditioning systems to reduce air intake from outside. For those who have to be outside, the department recommended limiting activity.
In an online forecast, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency said it did not expect “significant smoke impacts” from the fire.
Throughout the day, the Washington State Department of Ecology monitored air quality and potential pollution due to the fire, said Sandy Howard, a spokeswoman for the department.
Monitors in the area showed a spike in poor air quality between 5 a.m. and 1 p.m. and people in the area reported smells of burning plastic or burning garbage, Howard said. After 1 p.m., air quality improved and concerns “dramatically reduced,” Howard said.
“These industrial fires are some of the most toxic … You don’t want to be breathing it,” Howard said. “We’re just very fortunate the air quality has improved so quickly.”
As of about 3 p.m., the department did not believe any pollutants reached the nearby Puyallup River, Howard said. The department worried water used by firefighters to put out the blaze could have traveled from the burning scrap metal and into the river. The water was instead caught in nearby storm water retention ponds, Howard said. Department of Ecology crews were still on site, Howard said.