Warehouse Fire Information

April 14, 2023

Warehouse Fire Information

Updated 5/12/2023 8:30 a.m.

One Month Update

In the weeks since the fire, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), and the City of Richmond have taken several steps to clean up the site. Under Mayor Snow’s direction, the city has issued a formal request to the EPA to undertake an environmental investigation and immediate removal action of the materials at or near the site, executed a site access agreement allowing mitigation to begin, and secured an environmental consultant to monitor the process.

In addition, the Richmond Fire Department, Richmond Police Department, and Richmond Street Department are working with the EPA to mobilize heavy equipment on the site to assist with the assessment and remediation activities.

There are several steps in the clean-up process. Initial steps include:

  1. Identification of the materials/debris on the site. EPA will conduct sampling beginning on May 15.
  2. Development of a plan to safely remove and properly dispose of the materials/debris.
  3. Safe removal and disposal of the materials/debris.
  4. Follow-up environmental testing at the site.

More information

Help Line Live

Response partner agencies from the local, state, and federal levels, will hold Community Help Line LIVE, an in-person version of the 24/7 hotline put in place to address residents' concerns and questions regarding the recent Richmond industrial fire. Community Help Line LIVE will take place on Tuesday, April 25 from 4 pm to 8 pm at Fairview School 60 NW “L” Street, Richmond, IN.

The event will provide residents with an opportunity to speak with response partners one-on-one and receive up-to-date information on debris collection, air monitoring, and health-related questions. Agencies including EPA and IDEM will have their air monitoring equipment on display, allowing residents to learn how they operate.

Evacuation Order Lifted

At 4:00 p.m. on April 16, 2023, the evacuation was lifted for those impacted by Tuesday’s fire in Richmond. The Wayne County Emergency Management Agency, in consultation with the Wayne County Health Department and their State health partners, reviewed several sets of testing data provided by the Environmental Protection Agency and officially determined it is safe for residents to return home. Businesses and schools in the evacuation zone are able to resume operation.

Debris Removal

EPA's My Way Fire Fact Sheet (English | Spanish)

Richmond Debris Cleanup Completed

On May 4, 2023, EPA crews completed debris collection at 330 private and public properties in Indiana and Ohio. These properties have been cleared to resume normal outdoor activities. EPA visually inspected an additional 512 locations for debris and found no evidence of presumed asbestos-containing material.

On April 19 and 20, EPA activity-based sampling showed no asbestos particles could spread through the air during yardwork activities after debris was removed. At a property where EPA removed debris from the fire, EPA contractors followed a rigorous two-day process taking air samples as they conducted day-to-day yard activities including mowing the lawn and using a leaf blower. Sampling results are posted in the documents section at

Cleaning Information

The Wayne County Health Department has put together cleaning kits and cleaning informational sheet for those in the evacuation zone. Cleaning kits may be picked up from their office at 100 S 5th St, Richmond, IN 47374. The cleaning sheet may be downloaded here.

Press Conferences & Announcements

Sunday, April 16 Afternoon Announcement

Friday, April 14 Press Conference

Thursday, April 13 Press Conference

Wednesday, April 12 Press Conference

If you need assistance

Anyone needing assistance during this tie should call the Wayne County Community Help Line at (765) 973-9300. This includes transportation away from the affected area, information about shelter, and health concerns.

Oak Park Pentecostals at 1920 Chester Blvd. will provide food, meals, and drinks until resources are depleted. This is open to anyone affected by the fire.

Up to date information on various assistance programs can be found online at For phone support, dial 211. 2-1-1 is a free and confidential service that helps people find the local resources they need. Dial 2-1-1 to connect with a navigator 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Environmental Concerns

EPA's My Way Fire Fact Sheet (English Spanish)

Air Quality

The Indiana Department of Emergency Management requested EPA assistance and EPA was on site by 8 p.m. That evening, EPA, in consultation with the responding local and state partners, established mobile air monitoring locations at the site and across Richmond. The local air is being monitored by the EPA 24 hours a day. 

EPA’s air monitoring has detected particulate matter, as expected during a fire. The agency is also monitoring the air for products of combustion expected from a plastics fire including:

  • particulates
  • carbon monoxide
  • volatile organic compounds
  • benzene
  • chlorine
  • hydrogen cyanide
  • mineral acids (H2SO4 and HCl)

EPA will continue 24-hour air monitoring at the response. Monitoring takes place at the ground level. During the fire, smoke rises with the heat. Once the fire cools down, EPA anticipates seeing more smoke at ground level.

EPA has also started air sampling at different locations in the community. Sample results are anticipated in the next days or weeks, depending on laboratory analysis.

The EPA's response to the fire can be found on this dedicated web page.

Water Quality

Water quality is a crucial concern during and after an emergency situation. Richmond Sanitary District, with EPA and IDEM, is taking necessary steps to sample and minimize the runoff water from the fire, including ash fallout from the plume, in the city's storm sewers and surface waters.

Evacuation Zone

At 4:00 p.m. on April 16, 2023, the evacuation was lifted for those impacted by Tuesday’s fire in Richmond. The Wayne County Emergency Management Agency, in consultation with the Wayne County Health Department and their State health partners, reviewed several sets of testing data provided by the Environmental Protection Agency and officially determined it is safe for residents to return home. Businesses and schools in the evacuation zone are able to resume operation.

The evacuation zone was put in place on the evening of April 11, 2023. The zone was the area 0.5-mile radius from the incident site located at 358 NW F St. Residents within the area from Sheridan St (east) to 700 block Indiana Ave (west) and NW L St (north) to Lincoln St (south) were advised to evacuate the area immediately.


On Tuesday, April 11, around 2:30 p.m. EDT, two warehouses containing large amounts of chipped, shredded, and bulk recycled plastic caught fire in Richmond, Indiana. The Richmond Fire Department received the call at 2:40 p.m. and was quickly dispatched. Despite high winds, the Fire Department managed to contain the fire within the warehouse complex and not into the surrounding residential neighborhood. The Richmond Fire Department is the lead agency for the response. 

The site was previously a business that collected and packaged recyclables for reselling. Plastics were stored inside and outside the buildings. The business owner has previously been cited by the Unsafe Building Commission for various violations

Evacuation Order Lifted

At 4:oo p.m. on April 16, 2023, the evacuation was lifted for those impacted by Tuesday’s fire in Richmond. The Wayne County Emergency Management Agency, in consultation with the Wayne County Health Department and their State health partners, reviewed several sets of testing data provided by the Environmental Protection Agency and officially determined it is safe for residents to return home. Businesses and schools in the evacuation zone are able to resume operation.

Fire Under Control

The fire announced under control on the evening of Thursday, April 13th, two days after starting. Our Fire Department is to be highly commended for their swift and brave action.

Because of the nature of the fire and the material it has burned, it is expected to continue smoldering and producing smoke, soot, or burnt plastic smell for several more days.


The EPA’s website about this incident is at

General information about the fire should be directed to the Wayne County Community Help Line at (765) 973-9300.

Legal Documents

Richmond Law Department is currently locating and digitizing documents related to the properties involved in this fire. As they become available, they will be added here to this document repository.

For records inquiries please contact

Sign up for Local Alerts

Text your zip code to 888777 to receive mobile text alerts from Wayne County Emergency Management Agency. Or register online here.

Past Nixle alerts can be found here.

Frequently Asked Questions

When was the evacuation order lifted?

The evacuation order was lifted by the Wayne County Emergency Management Agency on Sunday April 16, at 4 p.m.

Are schools, businesses, and medical offices still closed?

School officials continue to be apprised of the situation and are making individual decisions on whether they will operate under normal or altered schedules. If you are concerned about business or doctor office hours, please call ahead to the location to ensure they are open.

How do we protect our pets?
  • Keep cats indoors in debris-impacted areas.
  • Dogs should be kept on a leash when outside in debris-impacted areas.
  • Do not let pets drink water from puddles, or drink water or eat food that was outside during the incident.
  • If dogs or cats get ash on their paws or bodies, wash it off promptly.
  • If pet toys were outside, wash them before use.
Where and how did the fire start?

The cause of the fire is unknown and likely will not be known for weeks or months. The State Fire Marshal’s Office is assisting with the investigation.

How long will the investigation take? When will we know definitive answers?

The investigation surrounding the fire may take several weeks, or even months, as it is a difficult process. Several agencies will continue to be involved, and it is very important for those agencies to take their time to ensure objectivity.

Is the fire out?

Yes, the Richmond fire chief declared the fire was officially out on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 18.

What should I do if I find debris in my yard or on my property?

EPA recommends residents should not disturb debris that may have come from the My Way Trading warehouse fire. Debris may contain asbestos; disturbing debris may lead to asbestos exposure. EPA is coordinating with local officials to prioritize areas where debris will be collected including schools and daycares, public parks and residences in Indiana and Ohio.

EPA is offering to safely remove debris from all yards and outdoor areas. EPA contractors are searching for debris from the fire, flagging what they find, and removing it. The crews place flags next to any debris they find to mark their location and will remove the flags as debris are collected. EPA crews wear gloves and use tongs while picking up debris. As a precautionary measure, EPA will collect all debris identified at the property.

EPA is offering free debris collection. To have EPA come to your home to pick up debris, please fill out the access agreement in English or Spanish and email Rachel at

Do not remove or disturb any debris. Asbestos is a hazardous substance that releases microscopic fibers into the air when disturbed. EPA is coordinating with local officials to prioritize the collection of debris at schools, daycares, city parks and residences in Indiana and Ohio.

Is it safe to resume mowing and working in my yard?

If you do not have any debris on your property or EPA has removed debris from your yard, it is safe to mow your lawn and conduct other yard activities (e.g. leaf blowing). EPA conducted robust activity-based sampling at properties where debris was removed, to ensure no asbestos particles from activities such as mowing and leaf blowing would have the potential to be in the air. After the debris was removed, agency contractors took air samples as they mowed the lawn and used a leaf blower. Throughout the rigorous two-day air sampling process, EPA results showed no asbestos. EPA has determined that once the debris is removed from the yard, it is safe to resume outdoor activities as normal.

How do I clean my property?

Free indoor cleanup kits are available at the Wayne County Health Department, 100 S. Fifth Street, Richmond. The Wayne County Health Department has provided detailed instructions on how and what to clean in your home or business. The Cleaning Instruction Sheet is available above on this web page. General guidance is that normal household cleaning supplies are recommended. Odors from the fire may linger but are not deemed harmful. Heating and ventilation air filters can be replaced to reduce potential odors. Lightly wetting filters prior to disturbing can reduce generation of dust.

Debris may contain asbestos, and asbestos exposure may be harmful. EPA is offering free debris collection. To have EPA come to your home to pick up debris, please fill out the access agreement in English or Spanish in our documents section and email Rachel at

EPA’s debris collection procedures are designed to protect workers and the public. Crews will:

  • Inspect roofing, gutters, downspouts, outdoor furniture, playsets, swimming pools, lawns and landscaping for visible debris.
  • Wet debris prior to pick up, to reduce the potential to create asbestos in dust form.
  • Use gloves and tools, such as tongs, when handling debris to reduce contact and contamination of hands.
  • Collect debris from swimming pool filters.
  • Place debris into plastic bags, with about a quart of water in the bottom of the bag to ensure debris stays wetted.
  • Seal debris in an inner and outer plastic bag for extra precaution pending disposal.
  • Ensure proper waste handling to prevent breaking open trash bags.
  • Wash hands and faces prior to eating, drinking and smoking, to reduce the potential for inhaling or ingesting contamination.

Should I be wearing cloth, surgical, or N95 masks in the area?

Cloth and surgical masks do filter out larger particulate matter; however, finer particles would require an N95-type mask. The Wayne County Health Department recommends wearing a mask while doing any cleanup of soot due to the potential of particulate matter. If you would like a supply of masks, please visit the Wayne County Health Department, 100 S Fifth Street, Richmond. You may also call 765-973-9245.

What has air monitoring and air sampling data shown to date?

Once the fire was extinguished, EPA did not detect volatile organic compounds or particulate matter emissions above background levels. After consulting with the city of Richmond and Wayne County, EPA ceased air monitoring and sampling the night of April 19. EPA posted roving and stationary air monitoring data to the website. EPA also posted some final, validated air sample results and will post more as they become available.

What’s the difference between air monitoring and air sampling?

The goal of air monitoring at the fire site was to quickly detect contaminants in the air so that actions can be taken to protect the safety of the first responders. Air monitoring uses electronic devices to measure concentrations of contaminants. These devices can be set up quickly and collect real-time air data. These data are used to guide actions in the field by indicating the location of the chemicals in the air which may be of concern. Stationary (not moving) and mobile (moving or roving) air monitors provide continuous real-time data of air contamination to inform when concentrations rise above thresholds.

Air sampling involves collection of air for laboratory analysis. The purpose of air sampling is to measure how much of a specific contaminant is present in the air over a period of time. For this response, samples are collected over 24-hours and are submitted to a laboratory for analysis.

Is the drinking water supply safe?

Those hooked up to municipal water receive their water from Indiana American Water, which has been closely monitoring drinking water. They report no unusual readings, nor any concerning sample results related to the fire.

Can people and/or animals safely be in contact with downstream surface water, such as the Whitewater River?

The Richmond Sanitary District and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management have collected water samples from the river and its tributaries. While some sample results, such as ammonia, dissolved oxygen levels, pH, and chemical oxygen demand have come back within normal levels, the sanitary district is still waiting for sample results for volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, semi-volatile organic compounds, and heavy metals. This data will be released as it is received, and at that point, local health officials will determine if the water is safe to swim in. The river and its tributaries will continue to be monitored. There have been no reports of fish kills or disturbances to wildlife.

What if I have additional questions or concerns? Who can I call?

A 24-hour Community Help Line is available, and will remain available, for anyone that has additional questions or concerns. Please call 765-973-9300 to speak with someone.

Are there additional resources available?

Wayne County Emergency Management Agency

Indiana Department of Homeland Security Fire Marshal Office:
Phone: (463) 202-4063

Environmental Protection Agency

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