(Aspen, CO) A fire caused by spontaneous combustion in a pile of decomposing woodchips at the Pitkin County Landfill is creating significant smoke but will be allowed to burn through the night until weather conditions permit safe mitigation. The landfill was closed at 2pm on Thursday (2/23/12) after embers in the woodchip pile were re-ignited by heavy winds.
“There is no danger of this fire spreading outside of the landfill,” said Pitkin County Public Works Director, Brian Pettet. “It’s isolated and surrounded by snow. We closed the landfill today because we didn’t want additional trash and debris to get near the blaze,” Pettet said.
Aspen and Snowmass-Wildcat Fire Protection Districts both responded to the blaze this afternoon.
“Since no structures are threatened and there is no wildfire concern, we’ve decided to let the fire burn through the night,” said Snowmass-Wildcat Fire Protection District Deputy Chief John Mele. “The best way to put out a fire like this is to spread the embers out in a thin layer and cover them with dirt. We didn’t want to disturb the embers today during high winds for fear of spreading them to nearby trash,” Mele said.
Officials will remain on the scene through the night. The landfill reopened regular business as usual this morning (2/25/12) at 7:30 am.
“We’re creating another location away from the fire to collect trash and debris tomorrow,” Pettet said.
Fire officials hope for a break in the weather tomorrow to begin extinguishing the blaze. In the meantime the public is advised to expect to see significant smoke emanating from the landfill.