What caused the Harmon fire? - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

What caused the Harmon fire?

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Courtesy: Jimmy Morrissey Courtesy: Jimmy Morrissey

The skies have cleared up after a weekend of smoke filled areas over Harmon and Tamuning. More than 60 local and federal firefighters responded to the large flames coming from the Harmon Industrial Park that ignited Saturday afternoon.

The fire is out, as fire chief Joey San Nicolas told KUAM News on Snapchat today, "We put it out completely at 10pm last night."  Chief San Nicolas confirming it took his firefighters more than a day to control the flames. It first sparked around 4:30 pm Saturday.  

Thick smoke could be seen for miles, as the chief said, the base of the fire was roughly 40 feet by 80 feet area. It definitely engulfed a larger area and then about two stories deep, 20 feet high."  The majority of the fire consuming material on the FSM Recycling Center.

Fire officials say nearby businesses, Tsang Brothers and Black Construction, were also affected. "We did express that if there was any discomfort with the air quality from the surrounding businesses or residents that they evacuate immediately," said Nic Rupley.

By Sunday, much of the area was hazy, as the smoke advisory remained. Acting Governor Ray Tenorio declaring a state of emergency 24 hours after firefighters first responded, as he said, "We put out the emergency warnings and signed the declaration to get that $250,000 to use as needed and then from there we are going to go forward and look into environmental protections. Where there any fire code issues that need to be dealt with to ensure this doesn't happen again in the future."

GFD monitored the area until 3am Monday before clearing the scene. Pat Lizama told KUAM News, "It came as a shock to us, too. I never seen a fire that big in my life until that day."  Lizama, a Tsang Brothers warehouse supervisor, recalls what happened, saying, "I noticed all the smoke and it looked like it was coming from our yard so my first reaction was to gather all the guys and get the fire extinguishers."

"All you hear was explosions and the fire was getting bigger by every minute that was passing."

As for how the fire started, Rupley said, "Pending the results from GFD and our own investigation if there is any violations that we find or any regulations that have been broken then notices of violations will be issued." Chief San Nicolas said, "We are still putting together all the facts and details to make sure nothing is left out but from the initial assessment we believe that it started on the Tsang brothers side and then traveled into the scrap yard."

A preliminary finding that company is denying. Asked if his crew was burning in the back area, Lizama replied, "No, not that I know of."

Workers at FSM Recycling Guam Inc, a Korean owned business, spent most of today cleaning up the mess. A manager who declined an interview tells me the fire did not start on their property and they are the victims. Even today you can see the mounds of charred debris including a car grill, twisted pieces of metal and even rubber tires. And it's the unknown throughout all this mess that are leaving many concerned.

"It's too early in the investigation to know what was in the air based on not exactly knowing what was burning," said Rupley.

While the investigation is underway, the fire chief commends the work of all involved, saying it was, "very dangerous and very complicated fire but fortunately we made it out without any injuries."

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