Fire burns through the night at Republic Service’s Sugar Creek landfill, 01/28/2016

The Kansas City Star
by Robert A. Cronkleton

The fire at the Courtney Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility was first reported about 11 p.m. Wednesday and continued to burn Thursday.
The fire at the Courtney Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility was first reported about 11 p.m. Wednesday and continued to burn Thursday.

A fire at the Courtney Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility in Sugar Creek burned through the night and into Thursday.

A passer-by noticed the fire at the landfill at 1701 N. Missouri 291 shortly before 11 p.m. and called 911.

When Sugar Creek police and fire personnel responded, they found a large pile of debris from pulverized cars had ignited, said Fire Chief Patrick Casey.

The pile, which contained the remains of car seats and other plastics, has been stored there since at least August for later use, Casey said.

The fire is believed to have been caused by spontaneous combustion, he said.

“It just hit the right temperature and the wind took up and it started a fire over on the southwest corner of it,” Casey said. “With the winds the way they were, it just got into almost the whole pile.”

Casey estimated that the fire covered an area 150 yards by 300 yards. The material was about 25 feet deep, but he believes only a few feet of the top layer caught fire.

“We started putting water on the outside so it wouldn’t jump the road on us and start catching the grass on fire,” Casey said.

After about two hours, crews with the landfill started placing about 2 feet of dirt on top of the materials to smother the fire.

About 1 p.m., about 25 to 30 percent of the pile had been covered, Casey said. Crews don’t expect to get it all covered by Thursday night, but they expect to get the majority of it.

Smoke is still expected to rise from the smoldering pile. Although the early smoke might have contained some toxic materials, air quality tests Thursday morning indicated the air was fine, Casey said.

People nearby were told to keep their windows and doors closed.

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