Firefighters continue to battle a four-alarm blaze in Columbus, Ohio, Friday as an enormous plume of smoke billows from the site and stretches for miles southward.
The blaze erupted at the Columbus Pallet Recycling located at 611 Marion Rd. while workers were still inside the building. According to local news reports, the workers were able escape and no injuries have been reported at this time.
"It looks like nearly 44 miles," AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Danielle Knittle said, citing how far the smoke plume was traveling.
"You can actually see the smoke on radar," she said.
Striking photo via @KOSUflyboy of the 4-alarm fire burning in Columbus, Ohio. 19,000 out of power, per @nbc4i. pic.twitter.com/aMVoY8aGOL— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) May 1, 2015
The fire was reported around 4 p.m. and has burning for nearly three hours, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
According to the news report, officials with the state Environmental Protection Agency are heading to the South Side to assess the smoke, which is likely toxic because of burning plastic from inside the building.
"It's a toxic plume of smoke," Columbus Division of Fire Battalion Chief Tracy Smith told the Dispatch. "I'm not going to lie."
Posted by Columbus Fire Fighters Union Local 67 on Friday, May 1, 2015
Radar has indicated the plume has reached over 10,000 feet at times with a north wind forcing the smoke southward.
"Winds since about 4 p.m. have been gusting every so often on their observations around 20 mph," Knittle said, adding that sustained winds were between 11-18 mph from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Smith said they are asking people nearby to "shelter in place" because of safety concerns with the smoke, according to ABC6.
Winds will begin diminishing after about 9 p.m., Knittle added.
"Looks like they're going to be generally 5 mph or less after about 10 p.m. with sustained winds from 6-12 mph," she said.
Smoke plume from fire in Columbus, Ohio looks like a volcanic eruption http://t.co/FLqOWrDNTe @nbc4i pic.twitter.com/7dh0lHOPbg— Dan Linden (@DanLinden) May 1, 2015
Columbus Police officers are also going through some nearby neighborhoods letting people know they might need to leave, but at the moment any evacuations are voluntary.
In addition, nearly 24,000 AEP Ohio customers are without power right now after officials needed the shutdown of a nearby substation, according to ABC6.
PHOTOS: Massive Fire in South Columbus - View of the smoke across central Ohio http://t.co/MviF33lJu1 pic.twitter.com/1QFQMVDN97— 10TV.com (@10TV) May 1, 2015
Traffic lights out, dozens of businesses without power as firefighters battle blaze in South Columbus @wsyx6 #Social6 pic.twitter.com/m5B6mHg7Pc— Bill Wadell (@BillWadellWSYX6) May 1, 2015
View from @OSUWexMed right now look at #Downtown #Columbus #Ohio! @10TV @Glenn10TV @Chris10TV @Kristyn10TV pic.twitter.com/CtmCVis0Kp— Dustin Burton (@Dustin2008) May 1, 2015