Last month, a large industrial fire at Nationwide OTR Recyclers in Indiana caused more than $10 million in damages. The fire began on a Saturday and raged through the weekend, fueled by more than 85,000 square-feet of tires; 60,000 square-feet of pallets; and approximately 30 propane tanks. Smoke from the huge fire could be seen from 20 miles away and forced the evacuation of homes and businesses within a five-block radius.

According to reports, the recycling company was issued a “notice of violation” back in March 2012 for exceeding the allowable number of tires stored on the property. Indiana Department of Environmental Management Spokesperson Barry Sneed said, “The limit is there because too many tires can be a fire hazard. It can create some real issues because of how tires burn.” The company had agreed to the order in January and according to Nationwide Owner, David Burgen, had dropped below the allowable  limit approximately two weeks before the fire.

Over 20 agents from the ATF, as well as Indianapolis fire investigators have been sifting through debris to determine a cause of the fire. While the cause is yet to be determined, investigators have recently stated that the fire suppression system in the large warehouse failed to operate during the massive blaze.

Officials are unsure of why the sprinkler system did not activate and mentioned that the facility had not been inspected by fire marshals in years. Despite this lack of inspection, it is ultimately the building owner’s responsibility to ensure fire protection systems are functioning properly. If the sprinkler system had been functioning properly, it is quite probable that the extent of loss would have been significantly minimized.