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Early Morning Fire at Recycling Facility Burns for 40 Hours, Snarls Traffic

UPDATE: MCFRS officials declared the fire to be "out" at about 7:00 pm on Thursday, Aug. 16, a full 40 hours after the initial call was received. Units and personnel remained on the scene for an additional four hours cleaning up conducting an investigation.

UPDATE: At 11:30 am on Wednesday, Aug 15, MCFRS reopened MD-355/Frederick Road to traffic.

Montgomery County Fire Rescue Service units responded early Wednesday morning to a fire at a large warehouse building, which houses a construction material recycling facility in Clarksburg. The fire quickly grew to two alarms as firefighters encountered heavy fire throughout the facility.

The fire forced the closure of a 3.5-mile swath of MD-355 in both directions between Old Hundred Road/MD-109 and Clarksburg Road/MD-121. The fire building is just north of Comus Road. The road closure and the proximity to the highway created a 10-mile backup on I-270 during the morning commute. As of 11:00 am Frederick Road remained closed in both directions, as firefighters continued to battle the fire and its aftermath.

The initial call came in about 3:00 am Wednesday morning, fire officials reported that more than 75 firefighters were battling the blaze in the 45,000-square-foot building at 24120 Frederick Road. The building is situated on a narrow area between MD-355 and can be easily seen from I-270.

The large and smokey fire filled the area with thick black smoke for hours Wednesday morning. Residents are reporting being able to smell the fire from as far away as Damascus as smoke blew northward. Complicating firefighting efforts is the fact that the building is in a non-hydrant area. MCFRS has set up tanker operations, using four water tankers to bring water from nearby hydrants to fill four portable water pools which are then used to douse the fire. Due to the volume of fire and limited ability to suppress the fire, MCFRS has been forced to fight the fire using external operations, due to the significant collapse danger, according to Battalion Chief Dan Ogren, a spokesman for the MCFRS.

Ogren said the operation of extinguishing the fire, and overhaul and investigation would be an extended operation, as firefighters continue to battle the blaze. As of 11:00 am, MCFRS still had numerous units on scene working to extinguish the fire. No cause has been determined at this point. However, Ogren stated that an investigation would follow. Thankfully, the building was unoccupied at the time of the fire, and no injuries have been reported among firefighters or civilians.

The building houses C&D Recovery; it is owned by Clarksburg-based the Pleasants Companies. C&D Recovery specializes in the recycling and disposal of construction and demolition debris and waste. Services at this facilities include recycling demolition debris to include building, road, bridge and construction materials, including concrete, brick, block, metals, cardboard, lumber, plastic, drywall, as well as asphalt roofing shingles. The Clarksburg facility opened in 2004 and has a second facility, located in Manassas, Va., which opened in 2006. The company employs 26 workers at the two facilities.


Top: MCFRS on the scene at 24120 Frederick Road where a large warehouse fire raged through most the night into the morning.

Next: Due to the limited availability of water and the size of the fire, firefighters were forced to rely on external firefighting tactics only. No interior attack was possible due to the danger of collapse.

Next: Smoke from the fire could be seen from miles away. This photo was taken from 3 miles away on Old Hundred Road south of Comus Road. Photo by Germantown Pulse.

Next: Flames can seen glowing inside the building housing a construction material recycling facility in Clarksburg.

Video: MCFRS using tanker operations to bring water to the fire in a non-hydrant area.

Next: Four tankers are being used to bring water to fill the portable pools.

Next: The initial call was received at approximately 3:00 am on Wednesday, August 15.

Photos courtesy MCFRS unless otherwise noted.