Landfill Fire Continues to Burn
Posted July 29, 1998
FAYETTEVILLE — Firefighters in Cumberland County have their hands tied. A landfill fire that started nearly a week ago is still burning. All they can do is sit and watch it burn.
For six days now, flames have been sending big plumes of smoke high over Cumberland County. It's mulch that's burning, and that's why it can't be extinguished.
"Right now it's just so hot, and there's so much dust in it," explains Bobby Howard, a landfill employee. "There's not much we can do with it. But we have all the areas contained as far as the fire getting away and burning anything else. We've got that handled."
There are at least 26 trailer loads of mulch in the landfill, and for the most part, it will all have to burn. That's because not even water can put the fire out.
"We could put water on it," says Howard. "But it just cools the outside of it, and the fire still burns up in the middle of it."
"It really needs more air to burn up completely, but that stuff is ground up so fine that it can't draw enough air," Howard points out.
Since the fire first started last Friday, the top priority has been to keep it away from a nearby tire storage pile.
"If the tires had caught on fire, they'd put out a petroleum (fume), and that's bad," explains Howard, "But we could detain that. If you notice, there's a ditch that goes all around it. We could have taken a bulldozer and pushed dirt across the ditch."
Landfill workers have been watching the fire around the clock to make sure it doesn't spread to the tires or nearby woods. The fire is expected to burn out by the end of the upcoming weekend.
Investigators still don't know what started it.