Landfill Fire Controlled Without Significant Impact on Operations

(Aspen, CO) Calm winds made it possible for crews to work through the night to control and nearly fully extinguish the fire at the Pitkin County Landfill. A pile of decomposing wood chips spontaneously combusted more than a week ago. The stubborn fire forced the closure of the landfill for a few hours Thursday to eliminate the possibility of truckloads of trash and debris igniting.


The initial plan was to allow the fire to burn through the night but when winds calmed after dark last night crews on the scene determined that it was safe to spread the embers out in a thin layer and cover them with dirt.

“The incident is over as far as we’re concerned,” said Pitkin County Public Works Director, Brian Pettet. “The fire is out except for a few hot spots. We discovered that it wasn’t burning as deeply into the woodchip piles as we had originally believed. That made it easier for us to disburse the smoldering chips and extinguish the blaze.”

Because the woodchip piles are surrounded by snow and away from any structures, officials were not concerned about a wildfire or a threat to nearby neighborhoods.

“Landfill Operations Supervisor Jason Ferguson deserves credit for staying on the scene through the night overseeing our landfill contractor, Pitkin County Waste Systems, using front loaders and hauling trucks to spread out the embers,” Pettet said,

The landfill was closed for a short time after 2pm Thursday but open for business as usual Friday morning at 7:30 am.

“Crews overnight did such a good job putting out the fire that we did not have to move the location where we normally bury garbage and trash.”

Landfill officials are already working on plans for how to avoid a fire like this one in the future.

Posted on Friday, February 24, 2012