Firefighters battled a four-alarm blaze at a junkyard at Tulip and Somerset

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Updated July 11

A huge fire broke out at Tulip and Somerset streets at the Port Richmond/Kensington border Tuesday evening around 8:30 p.m.

Flames could be seen for miles by residents of Fishtown and Kensington. The blaze, which took over nearly an entire city block as it engulfed a junk yard, eventually climbed to four alarms.

Billy Penn events manager Tasha Laurenson, who was on the scene, heard explosions and saw fireballs shooting into the air. She estimated there were more than 10 fire engines on the scene by 10 p.m., and that number continued to grow.

Firefighters brought the blaze under control just before midnight. One injury has been reported so far. According to 6ABC, a firefighter was taken to Temple University Hospital after a fall.

The cause of the fire is still not known. Here’s what we do know, and what we don’t, about the massive fire:

What we know

  • Officials said the pile of scrap that caught fire was mostly metal, wood and paper, per a PMN report.
  • The junk yard, officially named Philadelphia Metal and Resource Recovery, had previously been cited for multiple code violations.
  • Residents were evacuated from Lehigh Avenue at about 9:40 p.m.
  • At times during the evening, both Aramingo Avenue and Frankford Avenue were closed, and smoke from the fire reportedly backed up traffic along I-95.
  • Lehigh Avenue between Aramingo and Frankford remained closed Wednesday morning, as smoke continued to pour from the site of the blaze, per KYW.
  • In a very Philly move, there was a drumline playing next to the fire — with one of the participants dressed as Elmo.
The scene a block or two away from the fire at Lehigh and Tulip Credit: Natasha Laurenson / Billy Penn

What we don’t know

  • The cause of the fire
  • How widespread the damage will be
  • The environmental impact: Clean Air Council rep told NBC10 his org will be monitoring the air for potentially hazardous smoke particles.
  • Whether there were any other injuries or fatalities beyond the single firefighter
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Michaela Winberg

Michaela Winberg is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn. She covers LGBTQ people and culture, public spaces, and transportation and mobility. She also sometimes produces radio and web features...