Area firefighters responded to a late-night industrial fire Wednesday at the east end of Tamaqua.
The blaze, reportedly a magnesium fire, resulted in a heavy shroud of fog and caustic smoke with a distinct chemical smell encircling the east end of town.
Units from Tamaqua, Coaldale, Lansford, Summit Hill and other areas were summoned by a 10 p.m. Schuylkill Communications Center report of a commercial fire at Hart Metals Inc., 1415 E. Broad St.
Hart Metals is a magnesium powder manufacturer that has operated in Tamaqua since 1996.
An initial report suggested that all workers but one had safely exited the building. That report was updated shortly later to indicate that everyone had gotten out safely; but that responders should approach the fire with extreme caution.
Police and fire police kept traffic and spectators away from the area, where air quality was compromised.
Just a few minutes of breathing the air at the scene was enough to irritate throats, particularly in the vicinity of the former Jamesway Shopping Center and Sisters Cantina. On the advice of officials, members of the media retreated, eventually leaving the scene altogether due to caustic air.
Firefighters, including RIT response teams and fire police volunteers, were seen wearing air filtration masks at the scene.
Although damage assessments were unavailable, initial reports indicated that the fire impacted the interior and exterior of the plant, located just east of Sisters Cantina restaurant and near the access road to Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company.
Check out Thursday's TIMES NEWS for a complete story.