A spectacular fire last night at an auto salvage yard in South Philadelphia forced the closing of the George C. Platt Memorial Bridge and blanketed large parts of the city with a layer of thick, acrid smoke.
"We're getting calls from all the way up in Northeast Philadelphia," said a spokeswoman at the Philadelphia Fire Department.
The blaze, at SPC Corp., a scrap-metal recycling firm at 26th Street and Penrose Avenue, was reported about 9 p.m. and climbed to two alarms before it was declared under control about 10:30.
Still, crews were expected to be on the scene - just south of the Schuylkill Expressway between the Sun Oil refinery and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Golf Course - overnight to keep an eye on potential flare-ups.
No serious injuries were immediately reported. The cause of the fire had not been determined.
What burned was a large stockpile - about two stories high - of junked cars and other scrap metal associated with the plant's shredding operation.
At the blaze's height, flames climbed dozens of feet into the night sky. The resulting smoke soon covered much of Center City and the surrounding area, and could be smelled inside some of the older buildings downtown.
Company officials could not be reached for comment last night.
It was unclear late last night when the Platt Memorial Bridge - a main artery to Philadelphia International Airport - would be reopened.