Burrtec fire prompts business evacuations in Palm Desert

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PALM DESERT, Calif.- - A fire that burned at the Burrtec facility, south of the intersection of Hovley Lane and Corporate Way, in Palm Desert prompted the evacuations of a few nearby businesses. 

Twenty-three firefighters worked to contain the fire from 5 to 6:30 pm. Crews stayed on the scene several hours after to mop up. 

Emergency crews received multiple reports of cardboard burning at the Burrtec recycling site. 

“We called because we could see a little garden hose over the fence, over the wall, so we were like, 'uh oh I don’t think they’re going to call,' so we called,” said Nathan Bridge, who works across the street from the Burrtec facility. 

“The top of that thing [pile of cardboard], just lit up like a ball,” said Bridge.

Battalion Chief Jason McDerrmot, with Cal Fire Riverside County Fire, said the piles of cardboard were about 50 feet high by 50 feet wide and were engulfed in flames within an hour.

“No exposure damage to the office or structures at all. The firefighters did keep it to the piles itself,” said Battalion Chief McDerrmot. 

Corporate, between 42nd and Hovely Ln., was closed off for several hours while crews were on scene. Thick smoke filled the air, resulting in low visibility at some points. 

“It was a complete white-out. The whole parking lot was white. I mean it’s a ton of smoke,” said  Derek Falk, owner of Fitnatik, also near the Burrtec facility. 

Falk and Bridge say this isn't the first time something in the facility has caught fire.

“We’ve been open for about 7 months now and this is the second event we’ve seen like this. There was a fire a few months ago. It was in the evening and fire [firefighters] showed up and took care of that one too,” said Falk.

“If they [Burrtec] have an issue, they need to figure it out, because that place gets visited it a lot during the day. There are people that bring their cans there, they recycle there. It would just be interesting to find out what started the fire,” said bridge. 

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Check back for new developments on this fire.

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