By: David Shepherd, Dir. of News & Public Information / Local sources contributed to this reporting
UPDATED 3:30 PM FRIDAY
MITCHELL -- A large fire at a mulch company in Mitchell, Ind., has prompted the precautionary evacuation of several nearby homes and closing of area schools, and law enforcement continues to urge residents to avoid the area due to heavy smoke.
The Indiana National Guard was deployed Friday to assist in extinguishing the fire using aerial water drops. Mutual aid fire departments from surrounding counties have also been assisting. At this time, eight firefighters have been transported to the hospital and treated for smoke inhalation since the fire began, but are expected to fully recover.
NEW INFORMATION: Listener Allison Lindsey sent this photo to her father, Tom Vogler of the smoke continuing to billow from the much fire in Mitchell. He tells WITZ, “She's on her way to work at West Baden, from south of Bloomington, she said there are 2 helicopters dropping water on the fire.”
Photos sent by Tom from yesterday (below) show the fire smoldering. As of Friday, it has reached 7 acres.
Photo: Tom Vogler
The fire at Fibertech began at about 11 a.m. on Thursday. A 7-acre mulch pile continues to burn, resulting in heavy smoke throughout the town of Mitchell. Visibility is limited in the area, and firefighters continue to battle the blaze and windy conditions in the area. Fibertech is a wood processing plant that supplies wood pallets and bulk mulch.
North Lawrence Community Schools and Mitchell Community Schools have cancelled classes for Friday, April 13, and approximately 12 to 15 families have evacuated their homes.
All evacuations at this point are voluntary as a precaution. Residents in the surrounding area are asked to stay inside to avoid the smoke from the fire. In addition, Poison Control encourages any resident who was exposed or in the path of the plume and experiencing symptoms to contact their family physician as a precaution.
Local emergency management and first responders, with assistance from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the Indiana State Fire Marshal, will continue to monitor the situation and provide any assistance needed.