“The fire is still burning,” the man said at 6:30 p.m. Thursday after spending all day at the blaze. Firefighters will need to pour water on the fire through the night, he said.
The firefighter asked to remain anonymous because he did not want to overstep the authority of the Sandwich Fire Chief. No one from the Sandwich Fire Department was available for comment about the fire during numerous calls today.
The fire was first reported at about 6:30 Thursday morning. It was immediately categorized as a three-alarm fire but during the course of the day, it was upped to a five-alarm fire.
“By Cape Cod standards, it was a significant event,” he said.
The metal building, about 200 by 100 feet, on Service Road that caught on fire contained a recycling center for construction materials. The recycling center used to be known as Resource Recovery but is now New Bedford Waste, the firefighter said. The center contains construction debris bought to the center for disposal, along with metal, wood, ceramic tile and plumbing.
“It was loaded with combustible materials,” he said. “It was a tough fire to extinguish.”
Because it was a metal building that “twists, turns and collapses,” in the heat, according to the firefighter, the fire had to be fought from the outside only. “It makes it harder to fight the fire,” he said.
After the fire was substantially under control, excavators were brought in to tear the building apart and open it up.
Today’s weather combined with the nature of the fire led to thick smoke, and firefighters from at least six departments who responded to the blaze had to wear what is called self-contained breathing apparatus to fight the fire.
“People operating the trucks also had to wear it. At times, you couldn’t see the building 20 feet away,” he said.
“The weather held the smoke down. It created this giant cloud of smoke that hung over the entire area,” he said. Signs on Route 6 instructed motorists to close their windows to avoid breathing in the smoke.
Besides Sandwich, firefighters from Barnstable, West Barnstable, Centerville-Osterville-Marstons Mills, Bourne and Mashpee departments responded to the blaze.
No one was injured but the building was destroyed.
As of this evening, besides ladder trucks and engines on the scene, there were also the Red Cross, State Fire Marshal, and officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection.