An early morning fire burned about 8 million pounds of plastic pipe and caused an estimated $8 to $10 million in damage at WL Plastics west of Casper, but did not cause injuries, public safety officials said this morning.
The cause of the fire is unknown and the subject of an open investigation led by the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office, according to Sgt. Mike Steinberg.
Area fire departments responded to a blaze just after midnight. WL Plastics employees called in the fire, said Natrona County Fire Chief Richard Ratcliff.
Rocky Mountain Power officials shut off the overhead power lines about an hour later, and fire crews were then able to effectively fight the fire.
That's about how long it takes for an on-call person to arrive on site at that time of the night, said company spokesman Dave Eskelsen.
The blaze was under control by 5 a.m., Ratcliff said.
Steinberg said the investigation, which will aim to identify the source of the fire, could last days.
“It was a big fire,” Steinberg said. “It may take quite a while to get through everything.”
As of 8:30 a.m., crews continued to spray water on piles of crumpled, charred pipe and the stench of burnt plastic still hung heavy in the air. The fire took place in a lot where pipe was stored. It consumed several power poles, but no structures were damaged in the blaze, authorities said.
The fire knocked out power to nearly 770 Rocky Mountain Power customers, though it’s since been restored to all but four, Eskelsen said. It also forced the closure of a couple adjacent businesses due to safety risks, said Lt. Stewart Anderson, Natrona County emergency management coordinator.
Ratcliff said a code red advisory was issued urging those in nearby structures to stay put. That advisory has since been lifted.
"The smoke column was our biggest concern because of the carcinogens," Ratcliff said. "Fortunately, for the most part, it went straight up in the air."
Steinberg said he doesn’t believe there are any ongoing health concerns for the public related to the fire.
WL Plastics is located at 2075 N. Pyrite Road in Mills off Wyoming Highway 20/26. It manufactures high-density polyethylene pipe and related products for the oil, gas, mining, industrial and municipal water markets.
The company could not be immediately reached.
The road immediately in front of WL Plastics is closed, Anderson said, but U.S. Highway 20/26 is open to traffic.
The Natrona County Fire Protection District, Bar Nunn Fire Department, Mills Fire Department and Casper Fire Department responded to the blaze. The Natrona County Health Department, Department of Environmental Quality and the Natrona County Emergency Management also responded.