RIPLEY, TN - (WMC-TV) – A massive fire has destroyed a Mid-South business. The huge fire has been burning off and on for hours in Ripley, Tennessee.
Many in the community know the building as the Lauderdale Garment Factory. Several years ago, it became an industrial plastic recycler, and Tuesday night, those plastics are still burning hot.
Exclusive images from Chopper Five give us a bird's eye view of the massive fire that's fascinated Ripley residents all day long.
This is a first," Ripley resident Terry Martindale said. "I've been here for six years now. I've never seen anything catch fire like this."
The fire started around 5:30 Tuesday morning and burned all day.
As night fell, flames and thick black smoke continued to fly through the air.
The EPA has been in Ripley most of the day.
"They're doing samples, testing the air and soil samples, checking the water running off. Everything is safe," Ripley Fire Chief Felix Moore said.
"I live over in Henning," said Martindale. "I was out walking the dog and I saw a big ol' cloud of smoke. I was kinda surprised."
For many here, this fire has certainly been a spectacle. But for the firefighters from Lauderdale and Tipton Counties, it's been an exhausting day.
From the chamber of commerce to local churches, many are reaching out to provide a hot meal to those fighting the fire.
"If you have coffee, food, come out and bring these guys something throughout the night," resident Susan Todd said.
Fire officials say getting water on this blazing fire was difficult at first because one of the city's water towers was emptied for repair.
But that didn't slow them down from fighting one of the biggest fires in recent memory.
The EPA does warn residents in the area with breathing difficulty to stay indoors. The owner of this warehouse says its eight employees will not go without a job.