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Four-Alarm Blaze Burns at South County Recycling Plant

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A fire burns at Republic Recycling just after noon on September 13, 2013.

A fire burns at Republic Recycling just after noon on September 13, 2013.

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOX) – About 100 firefighters battled a four-alarm blaze Friday afternoon at Republic Recycling on Bayless Avenue near Interstate 55.

There were no reports of injuries at the plant or on the interstate. Commuters on I-55 said they could feel the heat from the fire as they drove by and many stopped to take photos.

“You can see some flames shooting up but I didn’t see them right away so I don’t know if it was when the fire department started hosing or whatever that it made it burn harder but it’s still billowing out of there and it’s black smoke,” explained Sharon Unger at nearby NuWay Rental, just south of the recycling plant.

The first alarm went out at 12:18 p.m. Friday. Within an hour the fire was largely extinguished.

Republic, formerly known as Southside Recycling, recycles aluminum, cardboard, plastic, newspapers and glass. A multi-alarm fire occurred at the plant in January, 2009 as well.

Lemay Fire Protection District Chief Niel Svetanics says it’s not uncommon for recycling plants to catch fire.

“It’s a recycling company which means they recycle old paper and cardboard and other products and then they bale them in large qualities,” the chief said, adding that those big piles of paper catch fire easily and can be hard to put out.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more details become available.

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