Firefighters spray water on a heap of smoldering recycling material Tuesday afternoon at Boulder County Recycling Center.

Workers at the Boulder County Recycling Center were evacuated Tuesday afternoon when a fire started inside the facility.

The fire started at about 2:15 p.m. at the facility, 1901 63rd St. in east Boulder. According to Boulder fire Battalion Chief Mark Johnson, firefighters found heavy smoke pouring from the west side of the facility in bay 1, where stacks of recycling materials are sorted. Inside the building, firefighters saw a piece of machinery on fire. It was shooting enflamed recyclable materials from it.

Firefighters used a truck to douse heaps of smoldering materials with water, as an alarm bell clanged in the background.

The fire was put out in roughly seven minutes. Johnson said he expected firefighters to be on scene until about 4 p.m. so that they could sift through the layers of recyclable material to make sure there were no fires deeper down in the piles.

“When you have that much packed material, you can have fire in little spots,” he said.

While the official cause of the fire has not yet been determined, Johnson said officials believe a belt on the machine overheated and may have caught fire. All employees were evacuated promptly and no one was injured. Johnson said he did not know how many employees were in the building at the time of the fire.

Six fire trucks responded. Due to Tuesday’s temperatures, which reached 90 degrees, Johnson said he called an additional unit in case firefighters needed to rest. Ambulance services from AMR also responded.

Per police radio traffic, 63rd Street was closed at Arapahoe Avenue. Police reopened the road at about 3:10 p.m.

Johnson said the total damage to the building has not been determined.

“I would have to hope that after we go through and make sure there is no extension, after whatever is damaged is repaired, they should be OK,” Johnson said.

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