FERNDALE, Wash. (AP) - Talk about fighting fire with fire. Crews
fighting a smoky, stinky blaze in the dried crust of a 3-acre
manure lagoon on a dairy farm finished smothering the flames
Wednesday with more of the same - a blanket of wet cow poop.
Desperate times called for desperate measures, said Assistant
Fire Chief Larry Hoffman with Whatcom County Fire District No. 7.
Hoffman received an earful of complaints about the smoke and
odor as the fire burned for four days on the farm outside Ferndale,
about 100 miles north of Seattle.
"We're not the most popular department in town," he said.
"It's offensive, the smell is. It stinks."
"In your worst nightmare, if you can imagine burning manure
combined with a brush fire - this sort of woody undertone."
The fire "changes the smell of the manure, intensifies it."
After working with water and foam, crews on Tuesday began
spraying the wet manure, which squelched flames on the leading edge
of the fire.
On Wednesday, a giant pump applied another layer of wet manure -
and that seemed to do the trick.
"It's out!" Hoffman said Wednesday evening, at least "about
98-99 percent out. There's some small pockets burning in the crust,
but nothing that's going to affect anything."
Hoffman declared himself "extremely, extremely pleased,"
adding, "Hopefully residents of the area will be pleased, too."
As many as 18 firefighters at a time worked on the blaze. A fire
break had been dug around the pond, so the flames couldn't leap
elsewhere on the 1,200-acre, 700-head dairy farm, Hoffman said.
He declined to identify the owners but said they had been
The cause of the fire was not known. It started Sunday in brush
growing on the dry 3- to 14-foot crust of manure, wood chips and
barn shavings on the surface of the 24-foot-deep lagoon.
"We're investigating the possibility it was an errant cigarette
butt or it could be spontaneous combustion from composting,"
Hoffman said, describing the lagoon as "basically a big compost
Most complaints to the Mount Vernon-based Northwest Air
Pollution Authority, which monitors pollution concerns in Skagit
and Whatcom counties, were about the smoke, staff engineer Annie
The authority had received 18 complaints, mostly from Ferndale.
Though some people complained about respiratory problems, most
of the complaints were about the smoke during weather that was
"too hot to keep doors and windows closed," Naismith said.
All jokes aside, it was hazardous work for fire crews.
"Our hoses only go so far. We can't go out on it," Hoffman
said earlier. Below the crust of varying depths, "It's like
quicksand. If they went down we'd never find them.
"I've been doing this for 20 years and never dealt with
anything like this," he said.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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Thread: What a bunch of *&#$$@ CRAP!
07-29-2004, 12:20 AM #1
What a bunch of *&#$$@ CRAP!Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones
*Gathering Crust Since 1968*
On the web at www.section2wildfire.com
07-29-2004, 12:24 AM #2
- Join Date
- Jun 2004
- Durham, NC by way of Toronto, Ontario
Call in the haz-mat team......cuz I don't wanna deal with that sh!! (literally)
07-29-2004, 12:51 AM #3
Some days its better to be a just a dispatcher sitting in the AC in a nice comfy chair.I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
07-29-2004, 08:38 AM #4
bEEN THERE...DONE THAT...
My service dealt with a simlar fire last year involving 500 tonnes of manure and silage which took 6 days to put out on a farm which stockpiled the stuff for surrounding farms and businesses. Took 6 days to put out involving at one statge 8 pumps
The stench at scene, in the engines, on station was UNBELIEVABLE and lasted a lot longer than the time spent at the jobUnited Kingdom branch, IACOJ.
07-29-2004, 09:19 AM #5
Well, ***** fire and hot *****."Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.Ē
--General James Mattis, USMC
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