An excavator pulled a flaming cube of trash out of Taylor Garbage’s recycling plant in Apalachin late Friday evening as a fire tore through the building. Numerous trucks made repeat trips from the plant to local water supplies, as a dozen or so agencies battled the blaze.
Michael Ponticello, the Director of Broome County’s Office of Emergency Services, flew a drone 248 feet above the facility to get a better look at the fire and determine where the highest pockets of heat were located.
The Apalachin Fire Department responded to the fire shortly after 5 p.m. And by 9 p.m., the department’s Chief Mike George said the building would “absolutely” be a loss.
Over a dozen agencies trucked water to a fie at Taylor Garbage’s recycling plant in Apalachin late Friday evening. (Photo: Maggie Gilroy / Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin)
“We’ve had fire throughout the building already,” George said. “You can still look inside and see heavy fire, so at this point, it’s a complete loss.”
The fire was first spotted just after 5 p.m. by a person who had passed by the building, located at at 5730 Route 434.
“When we arrived on scene, we found a large pile of rubbish in the building already on fire,” George said at the scene. “And within minutes, it had spread up into the roof and into the structure of the building.”
The building was unoccupied at the time.
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A dozen or so agencies responded to the fire in a coordinated effort by Broome and Tioga County. Around 9 p.m., George said there had no one who had responded to the blaze had been injured.
The recycle center is located in a section of Apalachin where there is not hydrants or a fixed town water supply. So, water was ferried to the scene in what is called a tanker shuttle. Trucks received water from fill sites in Apalachin where there is a town water supply and also from the Susquehanna River.
“So, a lot of the vehicle traffic you see is just moving thousands and thousands of gallons of water to this fire to try and put it out,” George said.
A drone flown by Michael Ponticiello, Broome County’s Director of Emergency Services, captured footage of a fire that tore through Taylor Garbage’s recycling plant in Apalachin late Friday evening. (Photo: Maggie Gilroy / Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin)
Much of the material that caught fire is plastic, George said. While there is a concern that this may cause toxic fumes to be released into the air, George said not much can be done to mitigate this until the fire is under control.
“But it is in the back of our mind, something we’re concerned about and when the thing is more stable we’ll be considering involving perhaps environmental authorities,” George said.
Due to the size of the fire and the heat, there is a very limited number of personnel in the interior of the building, George said. Instead, the fire is being fought from the outside using a number of ladder trucks that surrounded the building.
“That’s in part because of safety,” George said. “We don’t want to jeopardize any of the firefighters trying to go inside to put this out. It’s just too hot.”
Shortly before 10 p.m., the fire continued to rage and the roof was still in tact. Officials did not yet know the cause of the fire.
“There is a tremendous amount of fuel [for the fire] inside there, so we’re anticipating this may go all night,” George said.
This is not the first time a recycling center operated by Taylor Garbage caught fire. In July 2008, a fire destroyed a large portion of a recycling center located on Glenmary Drive, off of Route 17 C about four miles west of the Village of Owego.
According to the Press & Sun Bulletin / pressconnects.com archives, hundreds of firefighters from nearly every department in Tioga County and several in Western Broome were at the scene, which also did not have hydrants.
The Apalchin facility became fully operational in September 2012.
According to Taylor Garbage’s website, the 30,000 square foot facility is operated by Southern Tier Recyclers Inc. It’s a single stream recycling facility, which means that residents and collectors are no longer required to sort their paper and plastic recycling.
“The new facility is anticipated to produce a 20 to 30% increase in participation with the switch over to a fully no sort curbside pickup of recycling,” the website states.
The facility includes both mechanized and hand sorting and the plant can process up 25 tons an hour of mixed recyclable materials.
A dozen or so agencies responded to a fire at Taylor Garbages Apalachin recycling plant late Friday evening. (Photo: Maggie Gilroy / Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin)
“The advent of this facility will allow for expansion into new territories and the opportunity to bring recycling to areas that do not currently enjoy a recycling program of any kind,” the website states.
Taylor Garbage acknowledged the fire in a Facebook Post Friday.
“We apologize for any delays or inconvenience this may cause and will keep you posted on this matter,” the post read.
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