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Billings landfill brush fire contained, expected to continue smoldering

Billings landfill brush fire contained, expected to continue smoldering

A Friday brush and compost fire at the city of Billings landfill is expected to continue smoldering over the weekend into next week, Billings Fire Department Chief Paul Dextras said.

The size and density of the compost and brush piles aflame makes it difficult to quickly get to the seat of the fire and fully extinguish it, Dextras said.

"It's a fairly significant area," Dextras said. "It's nothing you can just walk around and put water on." 

The fire, which Dextras said stretched over several acres, was first reported at the 5240 Jellison Road landfill around 12:30 p.m.

As of 2:50 p.m., the fire was contained.

By 3:30 p.m. flames had been knocked down and the fire reduced to a smolder. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

Dextras said landfill personnel will monitor the fire over the weekend and will notify Billings Fire if they encounter anything they cannot handle with their equipment. 

"They evidently had a really huge pile of natural debris out there," Dextras said. "The fire is contained. We don't have very much wind today, which is really, really good."

Beginning Monday, Billings Fire will work with landfill employees to assess the state of the fire before they devise a plan to remove, spread and douse sections of burning material until the seat of the fire can be extinguished.

Multiple Billings Fire vehicles responded to the scene Friday afternoon, including two fire engines and two water tender trucks.

Several fire crews at the scene and landfill employees helped cordon off the area of the landfill where the fire was located by using heavy equipment to cut a perimeter around the area, Dextras said.

Deputy Public Works Director Vern Heisler said the fire broke out in an area of the landfill where brush and other materials are ground into compost. 

"It's not the first time that we've responded to the landfill," Dextras said. "But there's certainly not a chronic problem with fires at the landfill. They run a really good operation out there." 

Because there is no water supply on the premises, the Billings Fire Department was shuttling water to the site with help from the Blue Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Dextras said.

Smoke from the fire could be seen from the Heights and as far west as Laurel.

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