Steinbach recycling plant fire causes up to $2 M in damage

A fire at the Eastman Recycling plant in Steinbach, Man., Thursday morning caused between $500,000 and $2 million in damage, says the city's fire chief.

Kelvin Toews said it took about 20 minutes to get the fire under control. Crews were called to the plant shortly after 11 a.m. CT.

The huge plumes of black smoke that billowed from the building were caused by plastic and rubber inside, he said.

"Anytime there's thick black smoke, it causes concern," he said.

Nearly an hour after crews arrived on scene, the fire continued to smoulder, said Hanover School Division fleet maintenance manager Mark Kihn, who works across the street.

"There's still some smoke coming out," Kihn said around 11:50 a.m. Thursday.

"We sat and watched it for a few minutes and it started to get worse and worse and the black smoke started to get heavier and heavier," he said.

"We heard a couple pops … it could have been an aerosol can or something like that."

The fire started in the plant's conveyer belt that sorts recycling. Toews said nooks and crannies in the machine made it hard to put it out.

"It took us a while to extinguish all of it," Toews said. "There was lots of plastic, lots of cardboard."

Fumes from the fire could be smelled even inside his building across the street, he said.