A Mess in Maywood

A blinding fire at Panda International Trading Co., a metal scrap yard, forced hundreds of residents living right behind the business to evacuate and prompted a public health emergency.

What the neighbors did not know was that two businesses operating at the site had already been cited for health, safety and environmental violations — most recently just one week before the terrifying blaze. The fire, the response to it and the facility’s prior missteps expose a broken system of regulation of similar businesses across the state.