GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- Marshall County arson investigators say vandals damaged a fire hose being used to deal with smoldering debris.
"It's a monumental task," Guntersville fire marshal Jim Moon said.
"It's something that's going to take a lot of time. You had an enormous building and an enormous amount of product."
Moon said the July 6 fire at Big Marshall Recycling is the largest structure fire he's ever faced.
Investigators have not yet determined the cause.
The owner had no insurance, and workers had the week off for Independence Day.
There was no electricity at the building, no equipment that could have started it, and Moon said it would be highly unlikely for the types of material stored inside to combust.
"We're not calling it arson just yet, because that determination will come from the state agency that's actually involved in investigating it," Moon said, but he said it is suspicious.
Adding to that suspicion is vandalism committed two weeks after the fire.
The owner borrowed a fire hose from Pleasant Grove Volunteer Fire Department; workers discovered Tuesday someone tampered with it.
"The nozzle was damaged and there was drill hole through part of the hose and it rendered it out of service," Moon said.
The real damage done was to the Pleasant Grove firefighters.
"They're scratching to get everything they can get, like a lot of us, and there's so much equipment involved in firefighting," Moon said.
"Every bit of equipment that you've got, you want to maintain it."
Workers are pulling apart compacted piles of recyclable materials, to spread around and pour water on top of.
Moon said that is the only way to get it to stop burning, but it causes more smoke.
"I live near there, I don't live right at it, but I can smell the product still burning, and I know the people that live close by there; it's been a nightmare for them," he said.
"We just ask that they try to be a little more patient with us."
Investigators are trying to identify a suspect in the vandalism.
If you have any information about the hose, or the fire, call the Marshall County Sheriff's Office at 256-582-2034.