Monitoring the fire

Fire Chief Dan Johnson walks past the pile of green waste that caught fire Oct. 25 at the Laramie Landfill. 

SHANNON BRODERICK/Boomerang photographer

Laramie firefighters ended operations at the Laramie Landfill on Thursday after successfully extinguishing the blaze that started Oct. 25, Laramie Fire Department Chief Dan Johnson said.

“Operations concluded late (Thursday) afternoon with the use of heavy equipment,” he said. “Right now, the fire is out. We will monitor the area to see if there is anything that rekindles.”

The fire initially started Oct. 25 in the green waste pile, which covered an area of about an acre-and-a-half and was about 8 feet tall.

“That day was mostly spent suppressing the fire — the active flames — getting it down,” he said. “We got the flames under control and went into an operation of trying to reduce the field around it … We had heavy equipment around there removing all vegetation and all the dried up grass for quite a ways away from the fire.”

At Wednesday’s Laramie City Council meeting, Johnson said the department was in the process of suppressing the remaining pieces of the fire, which is called overhauling.

The department is still investigating the source of the fire.

“You basically take it out scoop by scoop, wet it, put it off to the side and get more out,” Johnson said. “There has been so much heavy equipment operating to reduce the field back … we won’t know where the point of origin is so most of the investigation will come from interviewing first responders that went out and what they have seen.”

Albany County resident Jim Ray said he could smell smoke from his home, which is several miles away from the landfill. He said he is concerned about how smoke affects air quality and that trash might be burning along with the plant materials.

“I developed a bit of a cough just from the irritation from the smoke,” Ray said. “(My wife and I) were going to Cheyenne and we drove past the dump and saw a lot of smoke as we approached the dump, we began to smell the smell of not only burning leaves but trash burning.”

Johnson said he was recently contacted by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality about the fire. After discussing what the fire’s fuel source was, the department did not make plans to test the air for pollutants, he said.

“They called me, just asking what was burning and what the pile was,” Johnson said. “They were not planning on coming out (because the fire was burning plant material).”

Laramie Public Works Director Earl Smith told city councilors Wednesday that changing how green waste is disposed of could help prevent a similar blaze in the future.

“One thing that we have talked about is not accumulating all of the green waste in one pile,” Smith said. “If this were to happen again in the future we would lose a smaller pile, not an entire amount.”

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