Air deemed safe to breathe following Southwest Philadelphia scrapyard fire: Officials

Health officials say Southwest Philadelphia residents can breathe easy after a massive fire ignited at a local scrapyard and triggered air quality concerns. 

Firefighters responded to Philly Auto Salvage and Parts just before 11 a.m. Friday for a blaze that quickly reached 2-alarms as it spread to 20 scrap cars. 

"You know how ants scattered? Everybody just ran out," said Yusef Sesay, who was at the scrapyard buying a bumper. "I ran because I didn’t want to burn."

As crews battled the blaze that sent thick black smoke billowing above the city, Philadelphia health officials told nearby residents to remain inside. The warning was especially dire for children, the elderly and people with breathing conditions. 


Hours after the fire was placed under control, the health department said air quality tests showed "no toxic compounds at levels that would harm human health." 

They gave residents the all-clear to return to normal activities. While the air tests provided enough evidence that the air is safe to breath, the health department added that the immediate air test results are "preliminary and have not gone through quality assurance. 

Investigators have not reported what may have triggered the inferno that prompted a response of approximately 50 firefighters.

Records from the Philadelphia Office of License and Inspection show several violations levied against Philly Auto Salvage and Parts for improper fire extinguisher placement and unclear fire roads.