Rice County officials work with EPA to battle landfill fire that covers a ‘couple of acres’

Rice County officials work with EPA to battle landfill fire that covers a ‘couple of acres’

Rice County officials work with EPA to battle landfill fire that covers a ‘couple of acres’

Dump truck after dump truck brought soil to the Rice County Landfill on Friday to be used by crews working to extinguish a fire.

The fire covers a couple of acres inside the landfill near Highway 3 in Dundas, near Faribault and Northfield. It was discovered earlier this week.

RELATED: Rice County landfill fire continues smoldering 2 days later, remains closed to the public

“It’s been horrible when the wind was blowing on Wednesday, it was all foggy,” said Jane DeGrott, who lives nearby, describing the smoke that surrounded her home. “The dogs were hacking; my cats were hacking.”

DeGrott began setting up earlier this week for her yard sale, wondering if anyone would come on Friday if the smoke remained.

The wind on Friday blew the smoke from the landfill fire in a different direction, away from DeGroot’s yard sale, which was a welcomed sight.

“Loaded up the car with trash, cleaned out the garage right because it’s spring,” said Judy Jones, who drove to the landfill but didn’t know about it being closed to residents due to the fire.

“When trash burns, I always worry about the burning plastics, the carcinogens and the chemicals and so on,” Jones said.

“We have had somebody go out to all the properties within half a mile of the landfill, just to do some spot checking around,” said Julie Runkel, Rice County Environmental Services director. “He’s not getting much for readings, which is good.”

Runkel stress if someone does have health concerns and they smell smoke, they should take necessary precautions.

Rice County has been working with experts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for advice on battling fires at a landfill, by using soil to smother the hot spots and flames.

“We also wanted to confirm that we are attacking the fire in the correct manner, that was confirmed, that we were doing what we could to put out,” Runkel said.

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

According to the county, it is “difficult to predict” when the fire will be completely out.

Rice County has set up a website for residents to learn more about their efforts.