Hickman County residents who were evacuated from their homes after a large fire at a plastics recycling plant have all been given the okay to return to their residences Friday.
The blaze at the Industrial Plastic Co. Inc. on Plant Road in the Wrigley community began around 10 a.m. Wednesday and forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents. Thick, black smoke could be seen billowing from the plant from as far as 10 miles away.
Officials let the fire burn during the overnight hours because it was too dangerous for firefighters to go into the holler to fight the flames. After Midnight, when the flames subsided, crews began smothering the fire with dirt.
Hickman County Mayor Steve Gregory previously told News 2 they are most concerned with air quality and monitoring wind speed and direction closely.
Tennessee Emergency Management Agency spokesperson Jeremy Heidt said they were concerns about irritates such as soot being inhaled by residents. He said there are no chemical concerns.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is still monitoring air quality in the area.
A four-mile radius around the plant was evacuated following the fire. The area is primary residential. Four schools were also evacuated and students were taken to other schools in the district where parents could pick up their children.
Classes were canceled in the east Hickman school zone Thursday due to heavy air pollution. Classes resumed Friday.
Residents living west of Lyles down Wrigley Road to Highway 100 were allowed to return to their homes 6 p.m. Thursday.
Ruth Adams and her family evacuated to an American Red Cross shelter set up at the Fairfield Church of Christ in Centerville.
"I'd rather be home, and I'd like to know what we've been breathing in and what everybody in the community is breathing in right now because the smoke has gone area-wide," Adams told News 2 Wednesday night.
Jolene Martin was turned away by a Hickman County sheriff's deputy when she tried to go home.
"I'm tired and want to go home," Martin told News 2. "He said I can't get clothes, medicine, anything."
The Red Cross shelter closed at 1 p.m. Thursday. A spokesperson for the agency said they would pay for hotel rooms for residents who cannot return home Thursday night.
A spokeswoman for the State Fire Marshal's Office said the exact cause of the fire has not been determined, but that the fire started accidentally.
There were no injuries reported from the massive blaze.
The Industrial Plastic Co. Inc. is located in Lyles, about 50 miles west of Nashville.
Fire destroyed the same plant in December of 2007. The site formerly housed the Wrigley Charcoal Plant.