Nasty fire sets off fear and wonder in lower Broadway industrial district

DECEMBER 8: A raging four-alarm fire at the Schnitzer Recycling plant on Rover Street was contained after several hours. (Photo by Jim Mahoney)

Disaster potential highlighted by blaze

By Josh Resnek

A smoky fire at the Schnitzer recycling facility on Rover Street caused more concern than damage. No injuries were reported in the fire which began shortly after 8:00 a.m. and was put out by 10:30 a.m.

The menacing plume of black smoke rising from an enclosed steel crusher on the sprawling property that abuts the LNG facility was visible for miles.

The smoke was worse than the fire itself.

Early concerns that the fire could have caused a conflagration have been eased by the fact the fire was put out so quickly, and could not and did not spread.

The Everett Fire Department was on the scene within minutes of the first alarm being run.

However the EFD at present has severe apparatus limitations and a shortage of firefighters.

During the recent mayoral campaign, Councilor Fred Capone argued that a new fire station and new fire apparatus as well as additional firefighters are needed to meet the demands of the city’s future and should have been part of Encore’s lower Broadway investment package.

DECEMBER 8: Firefighters attack the burning sites on ladder truck. (Photo by Jim Mahoney)

An open fire of this magnitude is a possible fire nightmare because of its proximity to the LNG plant.

The Schnitzer plant is now temporarily closed as its managers assess the damage and determine how to rebuild the damaged portion of the facility.

However, fire officials, firefighters and fire investigators have combed the Schnitzer plant since the fire to find out what exactly happened, how dangerous it might have been and how best to avoid such a recurrence in the future.

Other agencies have apparently done the same to assess safety standards and to search for possible violations.

Another fire damaged the plant in 2016.

The Everett Fire Department was first to arrive at the scene last Wednesday. It was joined by Chelsea and Boston fire department apparatus and firefighters.

There is presently no damage estimate issued by company officials.

But the cost to rebuild and bring the fire gutted facility back to full efficiency could be as much as a $1 million, according to those familiar with the Schnitzer operation.

The Schnitzer plant crushes junked cars and trucks and reduces their steel mass into pieces of scrap.

Giant, powerful crushers reduce automobiles and trucks to provide processed scrap metal to mills and foundries around the world.

The company’s manufacturing facility transforms Schnitzer’s recycled scrap metal into quality finished steel products such as reinforcing bar, wire rod, merchant bar and other specialty products.

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