Compost Fire Confounds Calif. Community

LATHROP, Calif. --

A fire at a compost plant erupted Monday morning in Lathrop, the Stockton Fire Department said.

The fire was sparked at Valley Organics along Frewert Road. The fire is surrounded by flat, rural farm land.

A neighbor tells KCRA that the compost pile should only be five feet high. The neighbor said that's according to a business application from San Joaquin County.

The neighbor who wanted to remain anonymous also claims there were two fires within the last year, and that the large compost piles are part of the problem.

The San Joaquin County Environmental Health department said it monitors and regulates compost facilities. But no one was available for comment.

Meantime, the San Joaquin Valley Air Quality Control District has been out at the scene.

A combination of wood and compost is burning.

"It's a green waste pile, so there is no significant concern about the smoke," said Lathrop-Manteca Fire Chief Chester Smith.

Firefighters said they will let the wood and composite fire burn out. The fire could possibly burn for up to five days, said Smith.

"I'm going to say this fire started by spontaneous combustion. The compost heated to the point of sparking its own fire," said Smith.

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