County recycling center shuts down after fire

Two days after the fire, employees and investigators alike gather in front of the charred building, trying to figure out what happened and where to go from here.

Solid Waste Director for Carter County Benny Lyons said he got a call from the fire department at around 7 p.m. Saturday evening, telling him the recycling center was on fire, and on his way over there, a neighboring business called him to report the same thing.

“He said ‘Benny, there is smoke coming out of your building,’” Lyons said.

He said he arrived to see flames coming out of the entrance and windows, with firefighters working to put out the flames as quickly as possible.

The damage was extensive yet contained, focused mainly on the front of the building.

“The roof was burned out and the garage door destroyed,” Lyons said.

Several metal bins inside the building were severely melted from the heat, and the ashes still cake the entrance where the garage door used to be.

In addition, Lyons said his office was completely destroyed.

He said the fire was a big loss.

“It was heart-breaking,” Lyons said. “We worked hard to get where we are at right now.”

The center is the main point of processing for Carter County recycling, processing tons of material a year from across the county.

The center has been making a series of improvements in its operations for the past several years, including increasing the number of collection points and improving its overall efficiency in multiple areas.

Lyons said they have an investigator currently evaluating the financial extent of the damages as well as the cause, but nothing conclusive has come out of the investigation just yet.

With the extent of the damage, Lyons said they had to cut power to the building.

“As of right now, all recycling operations are ceased,” he said.

In the meantime, beyond simply taking their recycling elsewhere, Lyons said county residents can either hold on to their recycling until they can restore operations, or they can take it to the landfill.

Lyons said he has no estimate on when they will be able to restore the center to operational status.

The recycling center has two official employees, both of whom will still have work as they attempt to ship out the recycling material they still have to other locations.

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