Crews battle massive fire at Steel Street scrapyard

July 20, 2018 11:13 PM

A massive fire shut down Lyell Avenue and Mount Read Boulevard in the City of Rochester Friday evening.

Located at 80 Steel Street, officials with the Rochester Fire Department tell News10NBC that the fire occurred at the Weitsman & Sons scrapyard.

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“The major obstacle with this fire is it is underneath the metallic rubbish so, what we do is we have a crane over there moving some of the debris out of the way so the firefighters can get to the seed of the fire,” explained Amon Hudson, firefighter. 

The flames were underneath old cars.

“We’re actually pulling [the pile of cars] apart trying to get to the center of it. But, the more we pull it apart, the more we are feeding [the fire] air,” said Deputy Chief David Kaltenbach, explaining how the firefighters were making headway despite the challenging circumstances.

In addition, there was concern over the burning metal causing toxic smoke and the warm weather causing heat exhaustion.

Firefighters positioned themselves uphill so they wouldn’t be downwind. Crews were rotated out so they could stay hydrated in the heat.

Additional resources were called in due to the size of the fire.

“A fire of this size and magnitude, we wanted to surround and drown. So, we placed different companies in different areas around the fire so they could hit at once,” explained Firefighter Hudson.

Additional firetrucks and manpower were called in, along with RG&E and construction equipment.

The airport fire department was brought in to apply foam on the 50 ft. X 75 ft. site.

The NYSDEC Spill Team was also on scene as the incident was declared a level one hazmat situation as a precaution. 

“The state is here too because this constitutes as a hazardous incident with the water running off. We’re containing it so it doesn't go into any sewers,” said Deputy Chief Kaltenbach, adding that DEC will conduct a parallel investigation into any environmental impact.

There were no injuries to report, but there was major damage done to several strapped cars. 

RFD says the cause of the fire was an old fuel pump that was crushed and the vapors ignited. 



Stephanie Robusto

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