Firefighters were at the scene of a massive structure fire on 14th Street for over 12 hours.

The fire began around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Republic Services main sorting building.

When Plano Fire-Rescue arrived, the main building was engulfed in flames, said Capt. Peggy Harrell, Plano Fire-Rescue spokeswoman. Republic Services employees locked up and turned off the equipment for the night, “but it is not uncommon after the equipment is turned off for a truck or two to still come and tip their load out. [The recyclables] just sit there until the equipment is turned on the next morning,” Harrell said.

Employees believe a trucker that came to tip its load may be the cause.

When firefighters arrived on scene, it was unsafe to enter the structure due to combustible recyclables in the building, like cardboard boxes and water bottles.

Firefighters stayed on scene all night controlling the blaze from outside the structure, Harrell said.

There was a partial building collapse at the back of the facility, but no injuries were reported.

“We just let it burn safely, stayed there, had a presence all night,” Harrell said. “It was all contained. We didn’t have to worry about a lot of spread, and we didn’t have to fight it terribly.”

Firefighters also protected other buildings on the property and the Cottonwood Grove mobile home just east of the recycling center. A few embers flew over the surrounding fence, but no other structures caught fire, Harrell said.

The fire continued to smolder into Thursday afternoon.

Harrell mentioned the building had a sprinkler system, but during the last freeze, it broke and was rendered unusable. Had the sprinklers been working, the fire likely wouldn’t have gotten as large as it did, according to Harrell.

“We want to have the sprinkler systems up and running. That’s the safest way to operate, but there were a lot of breaks in this last freeze,” she said. “So even though it was 80 degrees out yesterday, the sprinkler system was not operable.”

The fire forced the cities of Plano and nearby Richardson to cancel Friday recycling collection. Republic Services was working on potential short-term solutions to resume collection efforts.

Check back for updates on the cause and aftermath of the fire

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