Smoke line from scrap metal fire pictured in Pinellas Park Monday morning.
Tampa, Florida -- Nearly 10 hours. That's how long it took Fire Rescue workers to get a handle on a huge fire at a scrap metal facility off Highway 41 and Port Sutton Road in Tampa.
The fire, seen all over the Bay area, took firefighters a little longer to get at than they'd have preferred due to some heavy equipment blocking their way when they first got to the scene.
The fire, they say, raged as long as it did because of the intensely hot metal at the OneSteel Recycling facility that kept fueling it.
At one point, it came dangerously close to a pair of massive diesel tanks, which Hillsborough County Fire Rescue managed to shield from the flames.
Despite attacking the fire from all angles, a dark plume billowed into what had been a clear morning sky.
Thick black smoke drifted over the Gandy Bridge into Pinellas County. A well-defined line could be seen moving off to the south and west as far away as Bradenton.
After midday, firefighters started using foam to smother the stubborn blaze. Also, the same heavy equipment which had initially impeded their ability to get close to the fire was now helping to pull the smoldering piles apart.
"Being able to separate the pile makes it less dense and helps tremendously with the extinguishing efforts," said Hillsborough Fire Rescue Public Information Officer Nacole Revette.
Meanwhile, for folks out and about there were health concerns.
Trevor Aders, with his two daughters at a nearby park on Davis Islands wondered, "What kind of affects it has on them, or could have on them?"
Hillsborough County Health Officials say anyone who may suffer from respiratory issues or sensitivity to the smoke should probably stay indoors.
However, Hazmat workers had been taking air quality samples, "and they don't believe there's anything toxic in the plume of smoke. So most residents won't have anything to be concerned with," said Health Department Spokesman Steve Huard.
A man who works in a building across the street says they're glad the wind wasn't blowing in their direction this morning, but that they deal with issues from OneSteel occasionally, with some small explosions powerful enough to shake their building.
Fire Rescue says the last time they responded to OneSteel was in November 2008, but that was also for a metal fire, and they had no record of explosions in the past or rumors of someone shooting fireworks into the scrap-yard earlier this morning.
The noise and "fireworks", said Revette, are more likely caused by the metal itself, which can make loud noises and give off sparks under intense heat conditions.
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue believes the fire was the direct result of the industrial use of the property.
Follow 10 News Reporter Eric Glasser on twitter @ericglassertv
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