Fire at Albuquerque plastic storage facility forces air quality concerns

By: - August 7, 2023 4:06 am

A fire at United Poly Systems LLC. in Albuquerque, NM burns on August 6, 2023. The company where the fire occurred handles plastics and other chemicals, leading to an air quality advisory telling people to stay indoors. (Photo by Shaun Griswold / Source New Mexico)

The large dark smoke in the sky above Albuquerque on Sunday afternoon came from the destruction of a facility operated by United Poly Systems LLC, a company that stores and distributes plastic materials for construction.

The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Program issued a health advisory on Aug. 6 which was in effect until 10 a.m on Aug. 7, due to the fire that is reportedly releasing toxic chemicals into the sky of New Mexico’s largest city.

Around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Albuquerque fire crews went to the facility located near Mesa del Sol in southeast Albuquerque and found a vehicle on fire outside the business.

City fire crews also reported plastic materials outside burning. Quickly, that car fire hit the United Poly Systems building and ignited plastic products stored by the company, according to Albuquerque fire officials.

Those materials ignited the large black plume of smoke witnessed by everyone in the city and beyond, who then captured and shared on the internet.

No people were burned or hurt at the fire scene, fire officials said. At this time, it is unclear what effect the chemicals in the building will have on people in the city or for fire crews who first responded to the incident.

People taking photos at the site were asked to leave due to health concerns.

Albuquerque residents were advised to stay indoors from an air quality order issued by the city at 5 p.m. on August 7. That advisory ended at 10 a.m.

The smoke plume was absent from the city’s skyline around 7 p.m. on Sunday. Fire crews from Kirtland Air Force Base, Bernalillo County and Albuquerque continued to monitor the smoldering burn overnight.

The plastic plant fire extended to dry open space landscape around the facility, Albuquerque fire crews said.

The city hit temperatures above 100 degrees and land in the area remained dry due to consecutive record setting temperatures.

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Shaun Griswold
Shaun Griswold

Shaun Griswold is a journalist in Albuquerque. He is a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna, and his ancestry also includes Jemez and Zuni on the maternal side of his family. He grew up in Albuquerque and Gallup. He brings a decade of print and broadcast news experience. Shaun reports on issues important to Native Americans in urban and tribal communities throughout the state, including education and child welfare.