• A temporary shelter has been set up by authorities to safeguard displaced citizens
  • The smoke is 'toxic' with plastics among the many items burning
  • Details behind the cause of the fire weren't provided by authorities

More than 2,000 residents were forced to evacuate an Indiana town after a massive fire broke out at a recycling plant Tuesday, officials said.

Residents living within a half-mile radius of the Wayne County plant, located near the Indiana-Ohio border, were asked to evacuate their houses due to the large industrial fire, which is expected to last for days, the evacuation order said. Richmond Mayor Dave Snow said in a Facebook post that a bus will remain in place and a temporary shelter has been set up by authorities to safeguard the displaced citizens.

Snow urged residents to limit their exposure to the black smoke and stay far away from the area. "Not only is it a dangerous area right now ... limiting your exposure to this black smoke is the best thing for your health."

Firefighters responded to the scene after 2 p.m. to find a semi-trailer behind one of the buildings in the plant in flames, Richmond Fire Chief Tim Brown said, as per CNN. He said the trailer was filled with an "unknown type of plastics."

"It's probably the largest fire I've seen in my career," Brown said, adding, "Once the fire got out of control, it darkened down on us, (and) we backed out real quick and then went into defensive mode."

Indiana Fire Marshal Stephen Jones said the smoke is "definitely toxic," with plastics among the many items burning. He revealed there is a host of different chemicals released by burning plastics and it's "concerning," ABC News reported.

"We don't want the residents in the smoke. As the wind changes we may change the direction of the evacuations," Jones told reporters during a press briefing. "It's a big enough fire that it's just not gonna be tonight. It's going to burn a while."

Details about what started the fire in the semi-trailer in the first place weren't clear.

A responding firefighter suffered an injury on his ankle after he fell down a ravine, according to Brown. He received treatment at a local hospital and has since been released. No other injuries were reported in the aftermath of the fire.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management were on the scene to evaluate potential hazards resulting from the fire.

Brown revealed that the building owner was previously issued a citation for unsafe stacking of the plastics at the plant, as per NYPost.

"He has been warned several times. "I don't know when exactly that was, but we were aware of the situation we were dealing with," he said, adding, "It is very frustrating for all of us."

A fire was hampering the search for any possible victims under the rubble, the mayor said