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Fire at ORPET in St. Helens sends up plumes of black smoke; cause of fire still under investigation

PHOTO COURTESY OF COLUMBIA RIVER FIRE AND RESCUE - Columbia River Fire and Rescue crews responded to a blaze at a St. Helens recycling plant on Sunday, July 28.Emergency crews were dispatched to a fire at a plastic recycling center in St. Helens on Sunday night, which sent huge plumes of black smoke into the air.

Columbia River Fire and Rescue crews were called to ORPET in the 58000 block of Old Portland Road in St. Helens when a fire broke outside of the building in several large stacks of plastic in the early evening.

ORPET is a plastics recycling center in St. Helens that specialized in cleaning PET plastic recyclables before packing the plastic into bales to be processed, according to information on their website.

Emergency crews reported having the blaze under control by 5:15 p.m., but were on scene for several hours after the fire to put water on the smoldering pile. The burning of plastic caused a noxious black smoke to billow from the scene which was visible for miles, CRFR reported.

The fire was primarily contained to several plastic squares of recycled plastic bottles, but flames spread to some nearby vegetation which was quickly contained. No buildings were damaged in the blaze.

A total of 20 career and volunteer firefighters from CRFR, Scappoose Fire District and Oregon Department of Forestry all responded.

On Sunday night, St. Helens Police blocked off access to Old Portland Road temporarily to keep the public away from the noxious fumes, CRFR stated.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

No injuries were reported.

More information will be published as it becomes available.

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