INDIANAPOLIS — Flames and smoke were still seen Thursday morning at a Walmart distribution center in Plainfield, roughly 18 hours since the fire started.
Crews have been working around the clock (rotating every four hours) since the fire was first called in just before noon Wednesday at the 1.2 million square foot warehouse at 9590 AllPoints Parkway.
While the majority of the fire has been extinguished, flames were seen around 5 a.m. from a row of semis that were charred from the fire.
The ongoing fire makes the situation unclear for both Walmart employees and people living nearby.
Fire officials say people living close to the facility may see fire agencies checking for air quality in their neighborhoods. It’s because it’s still unclear exactly what material may have burned in the fire — with a possibility of it being toxic.
If you’re clearing debris from your home, fire officials urge you to wear gloves. If your skin does come in contact, wash immediately with soap and water.
Update from Plainfield fire chief
Plainfield Fire Chief Brent Anderson called the fire the largest of his 20-year career.
“We rotated crews in and out overnight,” said Anderson. “24 agencies I think we counted assisted so far. That’s from all over west central Indiana.”
He anticipates it could take days — if not weeks — to figure out the cause of the fire.
Anderson credited Walmart’s alert system for getting all 1,000 employees out of the building safely.
“Their process and procedures worked. I think that should be the takeaway here. No loss of life. No serious injuries. Every one walked away from this safe yesterday. It was a long day for all, but everybody got to go home.”
Access to the building is still an issue, and Anderson believe crews will not actually be able enter the building until Friday.
As for Walmart workers, many will get temporary reassignments at neighboring stores.
A spokesperson for the company said all affected employees will be paid for 40 hours this week, plus any overtime.
Walmart will also assist with lodging and transportation for any employees that need it.
We’ve already taken steps to limit the impact to customers by relying on the resiliency of our supply chain facilities and stores across the country to help shoulder the load as we work to normalize operations.