Local News

Durham Waste Fire Finally Extinguished After 2 Weeks

Posted September 24, 2006
Updated February 28, 2007

— Durham officials said Saturday a yard waste fire that has burned since early September has been extinguished.

The fire started at the city's Yard Waste Compost Facility on Sept. 10 and has been smoldering ever since.

City Manager Patrick Baker said the fire was extinguished after firefighters were authorized on Friday to begin using a fire suppressant called Pyrocool to smother the fire. The chemical was also used in the aftermath of the World Trade Center disaster in 2001.

"This is better than I could have hoped for, and I can think of no better news to share with citizens who live in area where the fire was burning," Baker said. "I'm sure they are as happy about this as I am."

In addition to cleaning up the burned debris, the city plans to continue efforts to obtain an operating permit for the Yard Waste site. On Friday, city officials delivered a proposed temporary operations plan to state Department of Environmental and Natural Resources that outlines the city's plan to run the site while seeking a permit within the next 60 days.

The facility lost its permit in 2004 and was working with state officials prior to the fire to obtain a new one.

City officials said earlier this week that they believe the fire was caused by spontaneous combustion, which can occur in large piles of yard waste when organic materials begin to decay.

The city uses the yard waste brought to the city's waste disposal and recycling center to produce mulch that the public can purchase.

Baker said earlier this week that the facility would be giving away the mulch over the next three Saturdays to ensure the city removes all of the material off of the property.

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