A shelter in place health advisory was lifted around 6:20 a.m. Monday after huge clouds of smoke from a fire at a metal recycling facility near the Port of Redwood City on Sunday caused police in Atherton, Menlo Park and other nearby cities to urge residents to stay inside with their windows shut.
The smoke from the fire at Sims Metal Management at 699 Seaport Boulevard was blown in a southwesterly direction toward Atherton and Menlo Park.
"We're definitely smelling the toxic smoke from this fire, and are hunkered down in the house with the windows closed," a Menlo Park resident posted online Sunday. "Is anyone else getting a headache from it?"
Menlo Park district and Redwood City firefighters responded to the fire, reported at about 1:20 p.m. Sunday, burning an outdoor pile of scrap recyclables, a dispatcher said.
The fire was deemed under control around 8:30 p.m. Sunday, but firefighters were still working at the site Monday morning.
Redwood City police said Seaport Boulevard will be open Monday morning with limited access beyond Seaport Court.
No injuries were reported and no evacuations were necessary.
Sims, which leases land from the Port of Redwood City, recycles scrap metal, cars, appliances and electronics, and calls itself the largest metals recycling company in the world.
In December 2007, a large fire of burning crushed cars at Sims Metal in Redwood City sent clouds of smoke over neighborhoods near U.S, 101. (Smoke was loaded with chemicals | April 25, 2007.)
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District cited Sims after residue from the plant drifted into adjacent wetlands. The residue included PCBs, and heavy metals, which were said to be contaminating the habitat of endangered species habitat.
In August of this year, Sims had a huge fire at its Jersey City, New Jersey, facility. The same location had a second fire early in October.
In 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency halted loading of shredded materials onto container ships by the Redwood City facility after inspectors found that PCBs, mercury, lead and other pollutants were spilling into San Francisco Bay. Soils around the facility had high levels of heavy metals and other hazardous substances, EPA officials said at the time.
Reporting by Sue Dremann, Palo Atlo Weekly | Bay City News Service | Almanac staff