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Employees talk about Walmart distribution center fire in Plainfield
PLAINFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — On Thursday, some employees shared their […]
LOCAL Employees talk about Walmart distribution center fire in Plainfield
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by: Camila Fernandez
Posted: Mar 17, 2022 / 05:47 PM EST / Updated: Mar 17, 2022 / 11:18 PM EST
PLAINFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — On Thursday, some employees shared their concerns about the massive fire that happened a day earlier at the Walmart distribution center in Plainfield and how grateful they were to have made it out safely.
“My team were … are safe and I’m happy for that,” said Mario Romero, an employee.
How the blaze got started Wednesday still wasn’t clear, but, luckily, the 1,000 employees at this Walmart distribution center made it out safely. A firefighter received what was described as a minor injury.Walmart warehouse gutted by fire brings little in taxes to Hendricks County
Some employees say the lack of injuries was thanks to some emergency training the employees had just a few days before Wednesday’s fire.
“We thought it was another training until we were out and we saw the black smoke coming out from the roof,” Romero said.
“We didn’t see smoke when we were outside and then when we heard the noise, which was like a crisp explosion, that’s when we got scared and we all started running,” said Daniel Harris, an employee.
Harris moved from Venezuela to Indiana two years ago before starting his job in Walmart. He says he was on the second floor when he smelled smoke, but he’s not sure what started it.
“There is an area that is specifically for keeping chemicals and products related to chemicals, and that area is always safeguarded and, obviously, I feel like that’s what mostly affected,” Harris said.
Romero says he was on the first floor, so he got out a lot more quickly. Romero says Walmart employees still have jobs despite the loss and that they’re just waiting to learn more.
“They told us they would try to move us to a different building from Walmart,” Romero said.
Harris said, “These are things that happen and you have to face them with the best attitude, with the best course of action of each one and you have to keep in mind that the future will be better.”
Some employees told News 8 they live from 30 to 40 minutes from the distribution center, but, thankfully, they got the help they needed. They say the company Walmart has been in communication.Fire at Walmart distribution center sends ash, debris into neighborhoodsWalmart workers ride, walk to safety during distribution center fireRelief agencies assist at Walmart distribution center fire
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Walmart fire at Plainfield distribution center creates plume of smoke
A large fire broke out at a Walmart distribution center at 9590 Allpoints Parkway in Plainfield, Indiana. No employees were injured.
Walmart employee says Plainfield distribution center stored food, clothes, cardboard
Jake Allen Indianapolis Star 0:00 1:52 AD
A structure fire at the Walmart Distribution Center in Plainfield broke out about noon on Wednesday. About 1,000 employees were inside but none were injured, officials say. One firefighter suffered minor injuries. Here's what happened Wednesday.
9:23 p.m. — Walmart employee shares her concerns
Arianna Wityshyn worked at the Walmart distribution center for about three weeks before the fire began.
Wityshyn works the night shift so she wasn't at the facility during the blaze. She is concerned because she has not yet heard how the fire will impact her job going forward, Wityshyn said.
"We've heard nothing," Wityshyn said. "All I was told was 'don't come in tonight' and silence since then."Walmart distribution center fire:What we know about massive Indiana blaze
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The situation will be stressful for many employees of the distribution center, Wityshyn said.
"It's near the end of the month and bills are starting to stack up," Wityshyn said. "I know a lot of people who work there live paycheck to paycheck so not knowing what's coming next is a little worrisome."
8:18 p.m. — Smoke seen on satellite imagery
Smoke from the Plainfield Walmart distribution center fire could be seen on satellite imagery as the fire grew, according to the National Weather Service.
The National Weather Service tweeted out a short video of the satellite imagery showing the smoke.
8:10 p.m. — Road closures and other updates first responders
County Road 100 South between Smith Road and Ronald Reagan Parkway will be closed until further notice, according to a Facebook post from the Plainfield Police Department.
This section of roadway could be closed for a couple days and an update will be provided when the roadway is reopened, according to the police department.
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DO NOT TOUCH:Fire at Walmart distribution center sent toxic debris into nearby neighborhoods
About 18 fire departments assisted Plainfield Fire Territory in fighting the blaze Wednesday afternoon into the evening, including the Indianapolis Fire Department.
The original call for the fire came in at 11:57 a.m., according to IFD.
The fire department uploaded a several-minute long video to YouTube showing crews as they battled the flames.
6:27 p.m. — Walmart employee worries about losing job
Mario Cruz, who has worked in the stocking department for three years at the distribution center, was picked up Wednesday evening at the reunification center.
He said he was concerned about when he could retrieve his vehicle that was left behind in the parking lot and if employees, like himself, were going to lose their jobs after the fire.
Cruz said they stocked everything from clothing to food to electronics at the distribution center and that there is always a lot of cardboard inside.
5:47 p.m. — One firefighter injured in Plainfield fire
Plainfield Fire Chief Brent Anderson encouraged residents near the fire at a Walmart distribution center to continue sheltering in place late Wednesday afternoon. He asked residents to avoid touching any debris from the fire that may fall in their yards.
One firefighter suffered minor injuries while fighting the fire, but was treated and released back to the scene, Anderson said.Plainfield fire:Photos, video show smoke billowing from Walmart distribution center
The distribution center that caught fire is about 1.2 million square feet and the firefighting operation is expected to last well into the evening, Anderson said. The fire is contained to the Walmart distribution Center, he said.
The building's fire system is what allowed all of the employees to evacuate the building safely, Anderson said.
"Everything was working appropriately, but this has such a heavy fire load that it overtook our crews and our ability to extinguish that fire safely," Anderson said. "It sounds like there was lots of clothing in the area where the fire started, wrapped in plastic and such."
Crews from the fire department were doing training nearby when the fire broke out and were on the scene within three minutes of being notified, he said.
Several neighboring fire agencies are assisting Plainfield FD and have trained to work together in a scenario like the fire at the Walmart distribution center, Anderson said.
"This doesn't happen every day, but we train for it to happen every day," Anderson said. We were well prepared."
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Environmental Protection Agency arrived Wednesday to assist in testing for hazardous materials and air quality issues from the fire, he said.
Fire at Plainfield Walmart Distribution Center
The Hendricks County Communications Center confirmed the fire is at the Walmart Distributions Center, which is at 9590 Allpoints Parkway.
Air quality concerns after fire at Plainfield Walmart fulfillment center
Fire officials said crews won't be able to get inside the building until Friday at the earliest.
Author: Emily Longnecker, WTHR.com staff
Published: 1:19 PM EDT March 16, 2022
Updated: 11:32 PM EDT March 17, 2022
AVON, Ind. — Firefighters were still working Thursday to put out a fire that erupted at a warehouse in Plainfield on Wednesday, March 17, 2022.
As of 10 a.m. Thursday, smoke was still coming from the 1.2 million-square-foot Walmart fulfillment facility, bearly 22 hours after the fire started.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) issued an Air Quality Action Day (AQAD) for March 17. The counties included are Boone, Hamilton, Hendricks and Marion. There are concerns about elevated amounts of particulate matter in the air from the fire. Those particulates include microscopic dust, soot, and liquid that settles deep into the lungs and cannot be easily exhaled.
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During Air Quality Action Days, the air quality may become unhealthy for sensitive individuals. These vulnerable groups, especially active children, the elderly, and anyone suffering from asthma, lung disease, COVID-19, or other serious health problems, should avoid spending time outdoors.
In neighborhoods all around the warehouse, you could see burned debris and ash. And while an environmental expert advised not picking up the debris unless you wear protective gloves, the bigger concern right now is air quality.
“People who are experiencing breathing difficulties that’s because of all these fine particles that were released when all this material burned at very high temperatures," said Professor Gabriel Filippelli with IU's Environmental Resiliency Institute.
According to Filippelli, air quality sensors inside the 465 loop are showing high levels of air pollution because of Wednesday’s fire.
“Probably try and stay inside a little more than you typically would. Try to minimize exercise especially vigorous exercise," Filippelli said.
That’s what Avon resident Joe Gallagher did. He can who can see the warehouse from his neighborhood.
“We’ve stayed inside all day and probably will until they say the coast is clear," Gallagher said.
He pointed to a device outside his home that he said the EPA set up Thursday to monitor the air quality.
“I could tell today the breeze was blowing some of it away. The fog isn’t near as bad as it was this morning," Gallagher said.
Just down the street, Hanna Foxworthy was being careful. She has asthma.
“Yesterday, it was kind of hard for me to breathe. Today it’s not as bad," Foxworthy said, explaining that she used a mask when it got too hard to breathe.
“I figured with everything going on, the air quality wasn’t going to be that great," Foxworthy said.
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Filippelli agreed that’s the way to go.
“All the things we did for COVID, like the N-95 masks, they work phenomenally for particles," Filippelli said, adding it won’t be for the long haul.
“If we get a weather front that moves through, these particles will move up and move away and blow downwind and get diluted," Fillipelli said.
Fire officials said crews won't be able to get inside the building until Friday at the earliest. The building's roof has been mostly destroyed, as well as most of the semis next to the building. Interior damage won't be known until firefighters can get inside.
The cause of fire is expected to take days or weeks to determine.
None of the workers or firefighters were injured in the fire.
The Town of Plainfield issued a statement Thursday, thanking the first responders who helped:
"The Town of Plainfield continues to support the first responders who are still working to put out hot spots at the Walmart Distribution Center fire. We are relieved and grateful there were no injuries due to the structure fire. The Town of Plainfield would like to commend the plans and efforts of Walmart and fire personnel for assuring we maintained safety of life first and foremost.
The number of agencies who have and are still assisting our local fire territory with this effort is overwhelming. We also had a large amount of donations from local businesses and restaurants and that generosity speaks volumes about the community in which we live.
We will continue to support the leading agencies of this ongoing investigation and will follow their guidance going forward."
Timeline of events
The Hendricks County Communications Center got a call at 11:57 a.m. March 16 about a fire at the Walmart fulfillment center, which is located at 9590 Allpoints Pkwy., near Ronald Reagan Parkway and East County Road 100 South.
Plainfield firefighters were training nearby and arrived three minutes later to the building fully engulfed. Firefighters tried to battle the flames inside until about 12:45 p.m. Wednesday and then moved to a defensive position outside.