Large plumes of thick smoke blanketed the air in Plainfield, Indiana on Wednesday after a 1.2 million square foot Walmart distribution center caught fire.
The structure fire began around 1 p.m. Wednesday, according to a Facebook post from the Avon Police Department. The building was completely engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.
Smoke from the fire could be seen miles away in the city near Indianapolis International Airport.
A firefighter was slightly injured while battling the blaze, but was treated and released at the scene, Plainfield Fire Chief Brent Anderson said.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will be the lead agency to investigate the cause of the fire, which could take weeks, according to the fire chief.
“At this time, we have no idea what may have triggered this (and) no reason to believe it’s suspicious or anything,” Anderson said.
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Mario Cruz, who has worked in the storage department for three years at the distribution center, said they stock everything from clothes to food to electronics at the distribution center and there are always plenty of cardboard inside.
Deputy Chief Joe Aldridge of the Plainfield Police Department said Walmart believed the 1,000 workers at the fulfillment center were accounted for and got out of the building safely.
“It’s going to be hard to contain that,” he said. “If you live in neighborhoods north of this facility, I would say you should stay indoors and keep your windows and doors closed.”
Firefighters warned that the distribution center was full of items that could become toxic if burned. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management and Environmental Protection Agency arrived Wednesday to help test for hazardous materials and air quality issues caused by the fire, said the fire chief.
“We’re going to err on the side of caution right now,” Anderson said. “We will treat everything as if it is dangerous.”
The fire department said the firefighting operation is expected to last until Wednesday evening.
Contribute: The Associated Press