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Large fire prompts air quality alert

Firefighters battle a blaze at a recycling facility along Edith between Montaño and Griegos on Tuesday. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

A large fire at a recycling yard off Edith near Griegos sent huge columns of black smoke skyward late Tuesday morning.

The blaze at Friedman Recycling was confined to piles of cardboard and plastic in the parking lot, and it had been contained by early Tuesday afternoon, according to Capt. Martin Salazar, a spokesman for Albuquerque Fire Rescue. There were no injuries or damage to structures.

Salazar said a cause has not yet been determined.

The intensity of the billowing stack of black smoke rising against Tuesday afternoon’s blue skies prompted the City of Albuquerque to issue an air quality health alert.

The fire at the recycling facility has prompted city of Albuquerque to issue a health alert for smoke and particulate matter. (Lloyd Jojola/Albuquerque Journal)

“The fire may be burning plastics and other substances that emit hazardous air pollutants … Near the fire, air quality could be unhealthy,” the city’s health alert said. “Everyone should avoid exposure to this smoke. Avoid the area of the fire or stay indoors if not possible.”

The health alert was active until 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Earlier in the afternoon, Gourdan Weare was in her kitchen when she first noticed the smoke coming from the recycling center, less than half a mile away.

“I can feel the heat by just standing here,” she told the Journal.

Across from Weare’s home were stacks of cardboard and other recycling materials.

“If anything hits that, it’s gonna move quick,” she said, “and that’s what’s scary.”

Residents in Weare’s North Valley cul-de-sac community were standing on top of cars and watching with a front-row view as Bernalillo County and Albuquerque firefighters worked to contain the blaze.

John Tittmann, who stopped to view the fire from the same area, said his son is an Albuquerque firefighter. He said he was trying to capture a photo of the fire to send to his son, Miguel Tittmann.

“He’s a lieutenant that operates a ladder truck out of Station Four,” Tittmann said, watching water being poured onto the flames. “That’s probably his truck. They’re well trained and they know what they’re doing.”

Journal staff writer Matthew Reisen contributed to this report.

The plume of smoke from the fire could be seen from miles away Tuesday. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)