About 30 volunteer firefighters from all five local fire companies responded to the town waste transfer station off Ethan Allen Road midday on Sunday, May 12, to extinguish a garbage fire within that large steel building.
Botsford Fire Rescue Company Chief Wayne Ciaccia, who was incident commander, said that an about 600-square-foot pile of garbage, which was about six feet deep, was ablaze when crews arrived about 12:55 pm. There were no injuries in the incident.
The fire had triggered a heat detector within the building which set off an alarm that alerted firefighters of the blaze.
After forcing open the building’s door, firefighters encountered dense brown smoke within, requiring that they wear air masks while battling the blaze. Firefighters found flames about 10 feet tall atop the burning garbage pile, Chief Ciaccia said.
The firefighters initially used water carried on their trucks to douse the fire. They also used water that they drew from a hydrant at the adjacent former site of the BlueLinx building supplies yard. Chief Ciaccia estimated that firefighters used about 12,000 gallons of water fighting the blaze.
Firefighters fortunately put out the fire promptly, he said, noting that sustained heat within such a metal building could have resulted in structural damage to its metallic support structures.
Fire Marshal Bill Halstead said the apparently accidental fire caused an estimated $5,000 worth of damage to the building, including damage to the alarm system and some lighting equipment.
Mr Halstead theorized that the fire started due to unknown substances that were within the garbage that caught fire, such as hot coals or combustible chemicals.
The fire had started within the last load of commercially hauled garbage that had been left in the waste transfer station before it closed for business at 3 pm on May 11.
The garbage that ignited was loose and was not compacted, Mr Halstead said.
The waste transfer station building is used to temporarily hold household garbage until it is trucked out of town for disposal.
Town Public Works Director Fred Hurley said the waste transfer station returned to normal operations on Monday, May 13.