Minnesota Landfill Goes Up in Flames

On July 2nd at 7:30 pm, a shopper coming out of a grocery store alerted Virginia Fire Department Assistant Chief Jim Theodore and his crew, who were out training, to visible smoke and fire showing from the county landfill on Highway 135.

The Landfill had been closed for the holiday weekend, so any situation occurring would be unmonitored.

Chief Theodore responded with his crew in Virginia Engine One, and called an active fire of about 100 x 100 yards burning on top of the landfills pile.

Engine One prepared for foaming suppression operations as Chief Theodore phoned to nearby Mountain Iron for an Engine and Manpower as they awaited landfill personnel to assist in formulating a plan of action.

Due to the recent installation of a protective membrane beneath the pile, an aggressive attack was initiated by Chief Theodore.

Mountain Iron Chief was established as water supply incident commander as there was no water supply at the landfill, and began setting up drop tank and relay pumping operations, calling upon the rest of his department to respond immediately to the scene.

Firefighters began battling the blaze the best the water supply would allow, as well as warm, humid temperatures in the 80's.

Additional departments from the area water supply coalition began responding as they were called up by Chief Theodore.

The communities of Gilbert, Kinney, Makinen, Lakeland, Fayal, Clinton and Pike-Sandy all responded with their rural tankers and were assisted by the Minnesota DNR and even the City of Virginia Street Cleaning Tanker Truck from the Public Works Department.

County Landfill personnel also operated Caterpillar dozers and loaders to move and rearrange the flaming debris as required to assure adequate access of the pumpers monitor units.

Smoke from the fire caused numerous "smoke in the area calls" in other communities 10 miles north of the fire location. Although fires occur at the landfill from time to time, Chief Theodore commented to the local media that this is the biggest he has seen.

Most units remained on scene until 4am when the fire was officially called "out".

There is no estimate of damage and an investigation is underway.