RICHMOND, Ind. — Richmond residents have filed a class action lawsuit against the owner of the plastic recycling facility that caught fire on April 11 and led to evacuation orders being issued as the fire burned and belched smoke over the city for several days.

City officials have previously laid blame for the fire squarely at the feet of Seth Smith, owner of the property located at 308 NW F Street where warehouses stacked wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-roof with plastic burned for days.

Residents within a half mile of the industrial fire were ordered to evacuate their homes while the rest of the city was put under a shelter in place order. These orders weren’t lifted until Sunday, April 16.

For years Smith has been collecting industrial plastic and storing it at My-Way Trading, in the warehouses located on NW F Street. When pallets of scrap plastic overwhelmed the property, city officials levied violations against Smith in efforts to force him to clean up the property.

Smith even attempted to sue the city in a failed attempt to have the courts throw out the clean-up order, records show.

“It is very frustrating for all of us,” Richmond Fire Chief Tim Brown said on the day of the fire. “The battalion chief today was very frustrated when he pulled up because we knew it wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when this was going to happen.”

The lawsuit brought forward against Smith is from three residents who live or operate a business within a half mile of the fire site and therefore were subject to the evacuation order.

The lawsuit blames Smith for being aware of the unsafe conditions of the recycling warehouses for years but failing to “take any affirmative steps to remedy the ultra-hazardous conditions that existed with the Industrial Facility and surrounding grounds.”

Nearly 2,000 people were required to evacuate their homes due to the fire, the lawsuit states, and numerous businesses were “forced to cease operations for a substantial period of time” leading to losses.

The lawsuit also blames the fire, and therefore Smith, for preventing many residents from being able to go to work leading to a loss of income along with damaging property values of nearby homes.

The lawsuit said many residents also experienced “adverse health events” due to inhaling noxious gasses and smoke.

“Plaintiffs and other class members remain in, and display, fear and anxiety for their health and safety as a result of the harmful chemicals, fumes, debris, and asbestos released into the air, ground, and water from the fire at Defendants’ Industrial Facility, and possibility of additional incidents at the facility,” the lawsuit states.

While the lawsuit currently only lists three Richmond residents as plaintiffs in the case, the lawsuit estimates potential plaintiffs who could join the class action lawsuit could reach upwards of 2,000 people due to the number of residents affected by the fire and evacuation order.

The lawsuit asks for punitive damages in excess of $25,000 along with attorney and legal fees along with other monetary relief to which the plaintiffs may be entitled.