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Business Owners Want Eastside Recycling Plant Shut Down After Massive Fire

Tuesday, September 6, 2011 - 5:39pm

EL PASO – Some business owners next to an Eastside recycling plant say it is too dangerous and needs to be shut down.

A massive fire erupted at Newell Recycling, located at 6800 Market Avenue, Monday evening. Firefighters kept the flames from spreading, but nearby business owners were nervous.

“If we burn down, we loose our business," said Norma Hernandez.

She owns a wholesale company with her husband located right next to the recycling plant.

Hernandez said there have been a number of fires over the years at Newell Recycling, one which damaged her warehouse.

“It's a reoccurring thing that never stops,” she said.

Hernandez believes the recycling plant, which is near Western Refinery, is a major fire hazard and should be shut down by the city. However, she knows that probably won't happen.

“We've talked to city officials, state officials, county officials, the fire department, and they just slap a few tickets and do a few things,” she said. “Then they're free again to start."

NewsChannel 9 contacted the owners of Newell Recycling for comment. In an on-camera in interview, part-owner Joalton Newell said there are many safety measures in place to prevent fires from breaking out in the mounds of ground up, recycled material on the property.

“We have a sprinkler system that runs all the time,” said Newell. “We regularly hose and turn the material. This case appears to be really unusual because we've taken great measures to make sure that this doesn't happen."

Newell said Monday's fire started when some of the recycled material spontaneously combusted. In the past, other fires have been ruled arson. Newell said he is doing everything he can to prevent future fires.

"We're really trying. We're taking additional measures all the time to make sure this doesn't happen. This case really appears to be a freak accident."

However, business owners like Hernandez aren't convinced this will be the last fire at the plant.

“They don't belong in the city. They're too dangerous," she said.

It took around 60 firefighters 25 minutes to bring Monday's fire under control. Fire investigators said the fire started when vapors inside the large piles of scrap metal and recyclables ignited.

No one was injured.

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