"Within a minute or two, we knew that this fire would spread so fast that it would be beyond our capabilities," said Joe Tannehill, Junior--the Managing Director of Engen, the company that manages the incinerator for Bay County.
The fire spread from the north to south side of the waste holding area, or "tipping room", shortly after 6:30pm.
"We called the fire department. Bay County Fire Department showed up in just minutes. They've been fantastic in their response and how they've attacked this all night long," said Tannehill, Jr.
Panama City Fire Department and a Hazmat Team were also called in to combat the blaze.
The scorching heat melted sides of the metal structure and crews had to cut holes in walls to allow better ventilation.
Heavy smoke still plumes into the sky today.
"The initial emergency, so to speak, is over with and we're just doing a clean up scenario right now trying to get to the debris underneath and put it out. It may take some time...we are trying to get it out as soon as possible. We're hoping to be done today, but we may have to go through the night. We'll have crews standing by until the scene is completely safe," said Bay County Assistant Fire Chief, Brad Monroe.
"We've been able to shut down both boilers in a controlled managed process and that is a good thing. Right now we are just waiting for the fire department to finish their work to get in there and see what we're dealing with," added Tannehill, Jr.