Metal scrapyard fire in Manatee County may burn for hours, officials say

Multiple agencies were battling an "extensive" fire at a Manatee County metal scrapyard on Friday, according to the fire marshal with the North River Fire District. The column of smoke created by the fire could be seen for miles around Tampa Bay. 

The fire is burning at Aceros America, located at 13838 Harllee Road in Palmetto. Fire crews from Manatee and surrounding counties were spraying 2,100 gallons of specialized foam on the fire in an effort to create a blanket over the burning metal.

The fire marshal said a nearby airport was also sending a fire management aircraft to help. No injuries were reported. 

Fire marshal Andrell Miller said the fire was believed to be caused by a scrap metal vehicle that was not properly handled. 

"They took in one vehicle that was not crushed, and it was not drained of its combustible fluids," Miller said. "They took that vehicle and grabbed it and put it into a pile and when they did that, it ignited and caught the rest of the pile on fire."

The wind at least blew in their favor, pushing the plume of smoke southwest over Tampa Bay and away from most populated land.

"There is no imminent danger to residential facilities or neighborhoods at this time," Miller said.

Though the call for help came in around 12:30 p.m., Miller said the fire would likely burn into the night.

"Since it is a scrapyard that has combustible materials and combustible metals and things of that nature, the fire tends to burn a lot, it tends to burn hot, it tends to burn for an extended period of time," Miller said.

The fire marshal confirmed that the same scrapyard, where metals, plastics and other materials are processed for recycling, caught fire in April. 

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Aerial view of metal scrapyard fire in Manatee County

"With a scrapyard you will have inherent fires due to the nature of business," Miller said.

Though the company tightened up fire safety procedures, even getting its own fire truck, Friday's flare up was too much to handle.

"All we can do as a fire service is continue to help them to make changes, so these happen less," Miller said.

Harllee Road was closed due to the fire, but the Manatee County Jail was operating normally and inmate visitation was open.