More questions raised about massive Richmond fire as crews battle hot spots a day later


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A massive fire at a shuttered scrap metal recycling plant in Richmond’s North Side cloaked the sky with a large cloud of black smoke Tuesday evening, triggering a swift response from firefighters from across the region.

The blaze prompted at least 65 members of Richmond fire to rush to the scene, including some from Henrico fire, but hours after the fire was marked under control, crews have yet to get inside the structure or been able to fully extinguish the fire.

“Materials like this can burn for weeks,” Richmond Fire Department’s Lt. Chris Armstrong told 8News on Wednesday.

Videos and photos sent to 8News showed a thick black cloud of smoke billowing over the city and one state lawmaker, Del. Emily Brewer (R-Suffolk), tweeted a video of an explosion at the plant.

The facility, previously occupied by Materials Management & Recycling, had been used as a recycling plant for scrap metal before being sold in December 2019. Mathew Appelget with Materials Management & Recycling told 8News on Wednesday that the property was sold to Lawson Companies, a Virginia Beach developer.

Appelget also mentioned that the building was vacant as of Dec. 31, 2019.

Kristopher Knepper, vice president and director of development & acquisitions at Lawson Companies, confirmed Wednesday that the company had purchased the building on Dec. 20, 2019, and that Lawson Companies has plans to redevelop.

“Thrilled to learn nobody has been injured,” Knepper told 8News.

Knepper said Lawson Companies have no idea why the facility went up in flames but that they are planning on sending crews to Richmond and are “cooperating with fire officials.”

“We’re ready to start re-positioning and add value to the site,” he also said.

A Richmond police spokesperson told 8News no criminal investigation has begun at this time.

WATCH: 8News’ Alex Thorson shares a live update on how Tuesday’s fire impacts the city’s air quality

Stay with 8News for updates. This story is developing.



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