The Hoodoo Landfill, serving the RM of Humboldt, Marysburg, Pilger, Middle Lake, Fulda and St. Benedict, is temporarily restricting loads of construction and demolition material due to damage from a pit fire on the site.
Other communities serviced at the site include the RM of Three Lakes, Lucien Lake Regional Park, Lucien Lake’s Water’s Edge Resort & Zimmer Developments, RM of Hoodoo, Wakaw, Wakaw Lake Regional Park, and the Resort Village of Wakaw Lake.
Lyle Ruf, operations manager with the Regional Authority of Carlton Trail (REACT) Waste Management, said that this restriction is expected to last until another compactor is ready, which they’re hoping will only take a week.
“It was isolated to one little area, but it did a fair amount of damage,” Ruf said on May 19.
“We have a spare compactor that’s actually being repaired up there and it will be transferred up there hopefully by the end of this week or early next week unless things don’t go smooth, then it might be mid-week.”
What REACT suspects happened is somebody put ashes from a fit pit or wood stove into their bin that ignited after being tipped into the landfill on May 12.
While that’s the most likely culprit, Ruf said it’s also possible some of the households they serviced threw out chemicals, which mixed and ignited.
“It could be a variety of different things that could cause it, and there were extremely high winds the day the fire started. So to say definitively what it was, we can’t answer that, but we do know those are the prime two causes for fires to happen.”
In some instances, Ruf said their crews have even found propane tanks illegally disposed of in the landfill.
“Even batteries shouldn’t be thrown in the garbage. I mean, we get people that throw in propane tanks into the garbage,” he said. “That’s the potential to be a bomb in there if there is ever a fire. People do a lot of things that would make it safer for everybody if they didn’t throw it in there.”
Bagged household garbage will continue to be accepted at the landfill, and the rest of the site is open for business as usual.
As for the old compactor, Ruf said they’re not sure at this time if it will even be worth an insurance claim.
Damage includes a burned fuel line which caught on fire, damaged hydraulic lines, and a burned interior of the cab.
In a letter to impacted communities, REACT asked municipalities to inform rate payers that ashes and hazardous waste are not to be discarded in any REACT bins, even if ashes are believed to be cold.
“A pit fire is extremely dangerous to REACT employees, equipment, surrounding properties, and the environment, as well as being very costly to manage,” the letter read.
“We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your co-operation with this matter.”
Jessica R. Durling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Humboldt Journal