Smoke from Indiana fire 'definitely toxic,' state fire marshal says

Evacuation orders continue for people in Richmond, Indiana. This is near the Ohio border.

A massive fire at an industrial plant broke out on Tuesday afternoon, spewing potentially toxic smoke and debris.

President Joe Biden, who is visiting Ireland this week, spoke by phone to Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and offered his support and federal assistance.

Indiana's state fire marshal says the smoke is "definitely toxic" and the EPA was in the area on Wednesday collecting samples of debris to determine whether asbestos-containing materials may have left the site.

Because of smoke still wafting from the fire, Indiana’s environmental agency issued an air quality advisory for two eastern Indiana counties, Wayne and Randolph.

There are also evacuations and shelter-in-place orders that are expected to remain through the night.


Officials say the plant is used to store plastics and other materials for recycling or resale.

The owner has been previously cited by the city of Richmond’s Unsafe Building Commission.

"That business owner is fully responsible for all of this. We have the Unsafe Building Order and the recorded court documents. And everything that's ensued here – the fire, the damages, the risks that our first responders have taken and the risk these citizens are under – are the responsibility of that negligent business owner," said Richmond Mayor Dave Snow.

No injuries have been reported and there is still no word on what caused the fire.

Richmond is about 70 miles east of Indianapolis.