Enormous Fire Engulfs East Phoenix Recycling Plant

If you were wondering what caused that huge plume of black smoke in the skies over southeast Phoenix earlier today – it was from a gargantuan fire that blazed through a local recycling plant.

According to officials from the Phoenix Fire Department, an enormous three-alarm blaze engulfed the main building of Arizona Pacific Pulp and Paper near 38th Street and University Drive and a few neighboring businesses late this afternoon. More than 100 firefighters were dispatched to battle the conflagration, which reportedly caused several explosions.

There are no reports of any injuries from the fire, which reportedly broke out at approximately 4 p.m. and caused a gigantic smoke cloud curling across the sky that was visible from miles away, including over nearby Sky Harbor Airport, and large enough to appear on the National Weather Service's radar systems. No flights were affected by the smoke, however. (One Twitter user even joked that the sight might have been upsetting to travelers.)

Phoenix Fire officials have stated that windy conditions in the Valley today, including gusts of up to 30 miles per hour, caused the fire to spread rapidly; it also affected a mulch yard next to Arizona Pacific Pulp and Paper, which is located in an industrial part of Phoenix. 

As of this writing, the Phoenix Fire Department has stated that the fire is largely contained but will be allowed to burn itself out. According to KTVK, a fire previously occurred at the plant in July 2014; another blaze broke out at the company's Grand Avenue location in 2013.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.