Rice County limits access to landfill due to safety concerns, ongoing conditions caused by fire

UPDATE 5/23/23 – Officials say the Rice County Landfill is only available to licensed haulers Tuesday after a fire broke out at the site Monday afternoon.

In an alert posted on the county website, officials wrote the restricted access is due to ongoing conditions related to the fire, and also to keep community members and employees safe.

No other details were immediately provided in the alert.

The fire broke out around 5 p.m. at the county’s Sanitary Landfill off Highway 3.

A previous version of this report can be found below.

INITIAL REPORT 5/22/23 – Firefighters have been working for hours to put out a fire that broke out Monday afternoon at a landfill in Rice County.

According to the Rice County Sheriff’s Office, the fire was first reported just before 5 p.m. at the Rice County Sanitary Landfill, midway between Northfield and Faribault off Highway 3. Personnel from the Northfield and Faribault fire departments responded to the call.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but Rice County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Josh Malecha said it’s likely the combustion source came from materials brought to the landfill, such as hot ash or lithium-ion batteries.

It’s unclear how long it will take to completely extinguish the fire because there could be layers of trash burning beneath the surface.

No people or property in the vicinity are in danger, Malecha said. He added that the smoke is visible for miles around and carries an unpleasant smell, particularly downwind.