DORAL, Fla. – A massive fire ignited Sunday afternoon, ripping through an energy facility in Miami-Dade County.
Large plumes of smoke could be seen coming up from the Covanta Energy plant located in Doral and billowing toward the west.
It’s located near the intersection of Northwest 74th Street and 97th Avenue.
“This is going to be a long-term fire, multi-operational period. We’re looking at several days,” Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Ray Jadallah said.
About 200 Miami-Dade firefighters responded to the fire and battled the blaze for several hours. It was upgraded from a second-alarm fire to a third-alarm fire after first responders arrived in order for additional manpower to assist with extinguishing the flames.
Covanta Energy has dozens of facilities located throughout the U.S.
Some residents who live in the area were outside throughout the afternoon, amazed but also concerned about this fire.
“I think it’s a security hazard for the residents living in Doral, due to the fact that that could explode,” said resident Diego Godoy. “Right now, nothing happened, but we have houses, schools, so it could be hazardous.”
In addition to local area residents, activists also came out to witness the fire.
Those activists have long been opposed to renewing the lease or expanding the facility.
“We’re opposed because this is an unsafe way to manage waste, not just from what we see here today, but also in the day-to-day,” said Earth Justice attorney Nestor Perez. “It’s a waste management model that belongs in the past and the county should move on.”
Residents told Local 10 News’ Cody Weddle that they started seeing the smoke just after 2 p.m.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue was the lead agency working to extinguish the fire, but several other agencies were seen throughout the afternoon.
“We believe that the fire may have originated from a conveyer belt that may have moved some of the trash that was on fire to other parts of the building,” Jadallah said.
Some neighbors received emergency alerts on their cellphones, warning them to avoid the smoke.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said crews have checked the air, but have not detected any toxic chemicals.
“But the area around the plant is experiencing highly smoky conditions, potentially impacted visibility, so out of an abundance of caution we’re asking that residents who live in the area remain indoors and keep their windows closed,” she said.
The private waste management facility, which has operated in Doral for the last 40 years, uses industrial waste to generate and sell energy.
As of Sunday night, two of the 11 buildings were still burning -- down from the original four.
Firefighters say extinguishing the flames could take days.
“We’re looking at two football fields worth of garbage and trash, coupled with other challenges, including the structures itself,” Jadallah said.