WILLIMANTIC, CT (WFSB) -- As crews battled a large three-alarm fire at a recycling center in Willimantic, people who are nearby were evacuated.

The fire broke out at Northeast Recycling Center around 4 p.m. on Monday.

The center, which recycles cars, is located on Boston Post Road.

The plumes of smoke could be seen for miles, which were captured by videos sent to Channel 3 by eyewitnesses.

On Monday evening around 5:30 p.m., fire officials said people south of the facility were being evacuated from the area.

Town manager, Jim Rivers said no one showed up at town hall, which was set up to accept evacuees. 

Officials said the blaze has already destroyed a small building where crews disassemble cars, and spread to about 30 cars.

Chief Marc Scrivener said it appears there will be minimal environmental impact because of the bowl shape of the recycling yard. 

State DEEP is on the scene and monitoring the situation due to the Natchaug River being so close. 

The fire destroyed the Quonset hut and 27 cars.

"The operation in the Quonset hut does involved removing fuel from junk vehicles so it's a risk operation so that will probably be the area where the investigators will start," said Scrivner. 

Almost 20 years ago, there was a similar fire that started with a cigarette butt that got blown back into where they were working. 

Around 8 p.m., firefighters wrapped up the scene. 

DEEP will be monitoring the situation and the fire marshal will be looking into the exact cause. 

Stay with Channel 3 as more information becomes available.

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