Fire at Sunbright Paper Recycling shuts down parts of industrial district

A major industrial fire late Monday closed parts of Imperial Drive and Texas Central Parkway and damaged the center of Sunbright Paper Recycling, the city of Waco’s primary recycling partner.

The Waco Fire Department responded at 6:45 p.m. to the industrial fire at the facility located at 701 Texas Central Parkway, one block from Fire Station No. 11 on Imperial Drive, firefighters said. .

Some 45 firefighters continued to battle the blaze for about an hour with 17 fire engines before the visible flames were extinguished, Deputy Fire Chief Robbie Bergerson said.

A Waco Fire Department dive truck extinguishes flames at Sunbright Paper Recycling.

Barry Klussman, provided

A large amount of flammable material, including bundles of cardboard and other recyclables stored outside, caught fire and firefighters worked to keep the material wet, Bergerson said.

Bergerson said the fire did not penetrate inside the facility, but the heat from the flames outside caused thermal damage to the walls.

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He said it was possible firefighters would be on the scene all night dealing with hot spots and smoldering material.

A firefighter was taken to a local hospital due to dehydration and heat exhaustion, Bergerson said.

The facility was closed at the time of the fire, officials said. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Sunbright recycles paper and plastic products from businesses and the City of Waco Solid Waste Department. In a statement to the Tribune-Herald, Solid Waste Director Kody Petillo said the fire’s immediate impact on city operations was difficult to assess “until we have a chance to talk to the Sunbright team”.

A 2019 Tribune-Herald article reported that Sunbright collects between 3,000 and 4,000 tonnes of recycling per year, averaging around 300 tonnes per month.

The company said it uses about 70 to 80 percent of the materials it recovers, sending the rest to the Waco regional landfill.

Adjacent Packaging Corp. of America, formerly Englander Container, manufactures cardboard boxes.

A photo released by firefighters showed unidentified wooden pallets and blocks of other materials on fire.

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