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Plastics fire shuts down 215 Freeway

June 27, 2007|Jonathan Abrams | Times Staff Writer

A fire broke out at a plastics recycling company in Riverside late Tuesday afternoon, sending dark plumes of toxic smoke billowing over the city's downtown.

Authorities temporarily shut the major downtown freeway interchange close to the fire, creating long traffic back-ups.

Interstate 215, between Spruce and Blaine streets, remained closed for more than three hours after the blaze began about 5 p.m. In addition, the nearby Union Pacific railroad tracks, used for freight traffic, remained closed through the night, according to a spokesman for the Riverside City Fire Department.

The fire struck Unlimited Plastics in the 2700 block of Durahart Street.

Cardboard and plastics burst into leaping flames that were high enough to be seen from the nearby freeways, said Riverside Fire Battalion Chief David Campos.

The fire also spread to the lot around the company's building, scorching about five acres.

No evacuations were ordered, but people living nearby were advised to stay inside to avoid inhaling the fumes from the burning plastic, Campos said.

As of 9 p.m., the blaze was contained and not a threat to the nearby apartment complexes and homes, but 100 firefighters remained on the scene to finish extinguishing the flames.

Two Riverside city firefighters suffered minor injuries, according to a spokesman for the department.

Times staff writer Stuart Silverstein contributed to this report.

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