Pigeon Forge landfill fire extinguished

Sep. 12, 2013 @ 11:37 PM

A garbage fire in the county landfill kept firefighters busy for hours Wednesday.

The first call to emergency dispatchers about the blaze came at about 4:28. Pigeon Forge Fire Chief Tony Watson said it was under control by about 5:26 p.m., but he expected firefighters to be on the scene for at least several more hours as they continued to spray down hot spots and make sure the fire was extinguished.

“I expect the overhaul to extend into the night,” Watson said.

His personnel were assisted by the Gatlinburg Fire Department, Sevierville Fire Department, Wears Valley Volunteer Fire Department, Waldens Creek Volunteer Fire Department and Sevier County Volunteer Fire Department.

The landfill has a pumper truck on site and, if personnel are on site, they will try to put the fire out themselves when it’s safe to do so. However, Director Tom Leonard said the landfill were already closed for the day when the fire started.

The fire started in an area where people had been recently dumping construction and demolition waste. Leonard said they would try to review their log books and see if they could determine whether someone had recently dumped some waste that could have started the fire, but he wasn’t hopeful they could figure out if someone was responsible.

“Nine times out of 10 when this happens someone has something in the load they have burned,” he said. They usually think the fire is out and the waste is safe to move, but with the recent dry weather and the combustible materials that can be found in the landfill, that can turn out to be an unsafe assumption.

Leonard said personnel at the landfill try to monitor the waste as it comes in, but often it arrives in large containers or trucks so loaded with material they might also miss any signs of smoldering embers or other hazards.

They also try to make sure that haulers know the danger when they bring materials in.

“Education is the key.”

jfarrell@themountainpress.com