PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Firefighters remain at a North Philadelphia junkyard where a massive fire began Tuesday afternoon. Chopper 3 was over the site Wednesday morning as firefighters continued to spray down the charred debris.
The three-alarm fire sent flames and huge plumes of thick black smoke into the air, prompting an air quality alert. And road closures disrupted travel during the busy rush hour commute.
Residents say there have been fires at this junkyard before but nothing like what they saw Tuesday night. Crews have been out here all night and they are still attacking this from every angle. Approximately 120 Philadelphia Fire Department personnel were on the scene.
Bright flames and pitch black smoke sent residents running into their homes for cover.
“When I walked inside boom boom boom real hard and you can see in the video everything was a big fire,” Jose Ramos, who lives nearby, said.
Officials couldn’t say exactly what type of scrap metal was burning at this junkyard on Sedgley and West Erie avenue, but say fuel sources made the fire difficult for crews.
“Thank god all the wind blow that way because if it blew this way everyone would have to move,” Ramos said.
As the sun went down and rose again Wednesday morning, firefighters were still on scene.
While they worked to hose down hotspots, emergency management crews addressed the smoke that blew east.
“This is an air filtration unit, also known as air scrubbers and we put them in the house,” Dominic Corbi said.
Eyewitness News followed Corbi as he went around from house to house in an attempt to help residents get rid of toxic air.
“Any smoke is bad but when it has to do with the lungs, you can’t live inside a property that’s saturated with smoke,” Corbi said.
It’s not just quality of air concerns, neighboring businesses say the fire has closed off streets with no timeline as to when they’ll reopen.
“Empty. No money being made, that’s how it’s impacted because of the street being closed, so there’s no money, so I I may have to go home early today,” a man said. “Who’s going to pay for my other 4 hours?”
The cause of this fire is still unknown.
This junk yard sits next to train tracks forcing Amtrak to shut down rail service for several hours, but service has since resumed.
The fire department says when it’s safe, the fire Marshall along with ATF will start their investigation.