Saanich firefighters were called for a minor garbage fire at the Hartland Landfill on Friday night. (Facebook/Capital Regional District)

Saanich firefighters were called for a minor garbage fire at the Hartland Landfill on Friday night. (Facebook/Capital Regional District)

Smouldering garbage pile at Hartland Landfill doused by Saanich firefighters Friday

Garbage fires routine at landfills as decomposing material can ignite, platoon captain says

A minor fire that sparked in a garbage pile at the Hartland Landfill on Friday was quickly tackled by emergency crews.

The Saanich Fire Department was called to the dump to assist with smouldering garbage around 10:15 p.m. on May 1. The crew from Saanich Fire Station No. 2 on Elk Lake Drive responded with one fire engine and a tanker, said Station No. 1 Platoon Captain Rob Jones.

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When firefighters arrived, they found that the issue was smouldering garbage deep in one of the piles, he explained. An excavator was used so crews could soak the pile of garbage with water and stop the smouldering debris from becoming engulfed.

A thermal-imaging camera was used to spot the heat source deep in the pile and then to ensure the issue had been managed, Jones said.

He added that debris at the garbage dump can be toxic so crews went in with full gear on and scrubbed down afterwards to ensure they didn’t bring contaminants home.

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Smouldering debris is “a routine thing that happens” at the landfill, Jones explained. “It’s the price of doing business,” as organic materials can catch fire when they decompose.

Heat is created as organic materials decompose which can lead to a fire, he said, this is why garden waste is typically separated from other refuse. Jones noted that the incident at Hartland Landfill serves as a good reminder that routinely turning over compost piles, especially as the weather warms, is best practice.


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