UPDATE: 2:30 p.m.
Atchison County Emergency Management officials say EnTire Recycling is engulfed in flames, and firefighters are still at the scene. Officials say due to the fuel source--tires and heavy wind--the fire is extremely difficult to battle, and will continue for some time. Atchison County officials asks residents to stay clear of the area, as the smoke is hazardous to breathe, and explosions are possible.
(Phelps City, MO) -- Northwest Missouri fire crews are battling a massive structure fire.
The Atchison County Emergency Management Agency reports the fire is at EnTire Recycling, a tire recycling facility located just outside of Phelps City. Rock Port Fire Chief Scott Jones tells KMA News that crews initially responded to the blaze around 11 p.m. Sunday.
"On arrival out here we had smoke and flames in the south part of the structure," Jones said. "Basically, at the time it was nothing more than ground up tires that were on fire. From there it spread further into the building, basically fanned by the south wind. We had three units that made interior attacks, but we were unable to get the fire under control."
Jones adds heavy winds caused crews to move away from the structure.
"At about 12:30 a.m. we pulled all of our units out of the building," Jones said. "We were staged right by some liquid nitrogen tanks that we were having issues with. We backed off, rolled up our hoses, and evacuated to 136 Highway. Right now we have 136 from west of I-29 to the Missouri River bridge closed down for heavy smoke. The fire continues to rage and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it."
The fire's thick, black smoke caused visibility issues for motorists along Highway 136, prompting the road closure. Jones says traffic is being detoured around the scene.
"MoDOT is out here. They are giving a detour up to the Watson area and then back down State Highway D to 136," Jones said. "They can then travel to the Missouri River bridge there."
At this time, Jones says it's unknown when Highway 136 will reopen. Assisting at the scene includes fire crews from Rock Port, Tarkio, Fairfax, and Watson, as well as the Rock Port Police Department, Atchison County Sheriff's Office, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.