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Scenes from the Barrow County landfill fire

By Joe Johnson

On Saturday morning crews from the Barrow County Fire Department and Georgia Forestry Commission remained at the scene of a fire that has been burning for over 36 hours and could possibly burn for another two or more days.

The incident is occurring at a landfill that is located off of Georgia Highway 11 near Holdenbeck Elementary School. Firefighters initially responded there soon before midnight Thursday to investigate a fire of unknown origin.

Officials said that despite suppression efforts the fire should probably continue to burn for several more days due to a huge volume of inert wood products on site that had been dumped there. An inert landfill contains only such organic products as wood, leaves and limbs.

Fire Capt. Scott Dakin said that since bringing the fire under control, crews have been stationed at the landfill around the clock to monitor the situation and extinguish flare-ups when they occur.

At 10:54 a.m. the Barrow County Fire Department posted the following message:

"Today’s operations update on the Highway 11 Inert (organic material) fire:

We have brought in extra heavy equipment to move dirt around the pile to create berms for the operators to safely pull the pile down and open it up to burn more freely in this controlled environment. We still have firefighting crews stationed around the area to mitigate this operation. You may see increased smoke for a bit, but rest assured it is under control. The EPD and GA Forestry is out here with us while this strategy is taking place. Again, you’ll notice more smoke in the area through the day, but as always if you see any fire outside of the main area of this location, call 911."


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Spontaneous combustion is common when a large volume of wood (especially wood chips) and leaves are stored in large piles, especially if the material is newly cut or moist. One has to limit pile size, monitor regularly and cut out any smoldering areas before it spreads. Turning the pile of the materials can also help.

They are difficult fires to extinguish. Thanks to all in fire department. It is gonna be days of dirty work.

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