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UPDATED: Fire at Collingwood landfill this morning

Collingwood Fire Department was called to the landfill on the Tenth Line on May 13 at 6 a.m. for a fire

Collingwood Fire Department was called out early this morning to a fire at the local landfill. 

At about 6 a.m., fire crews responded and arrived at the site to find flames coming from one of the piles of trash. 

The landfill is on the Tenth Line and is operated by Simcoe County. 

Deputy Chief Stephen Emo said the fire was fairly large when crews arrived and Collingwood Fire called in assistance from The Blue Mountains and Clearview Fire Departments for a tanker and a pump truck. Collingwood Fire Department doesn't have a tanker truck, but required a water source at the landfill site. 

Emo said the fire was getting some help to spread from a strong southwestern wind this morning (May 13). 

The 911 call was first made by a Collingwood resident living in the 285 Second Street apartments on the top floor. From their unit, the resident could see black smoke coming from the landfill direction. A town employee reporting for work early in the morning at the Town of Collingwood works building on the Tenth Line also noticed the fire and called it in. 

Emo said it's possible the smoke from the landfill fire could be toxic, but because it's unknown what is actually burning, it's hard to say. 

Rob McCullough, director of solid waste management for the County of Simcoe said one of the county's employees actually spotted the fire while having a morning coffee and arrived quickly at the landfill site shortly after fire crews arrived. The employee assisted the fire department by using the landfill machinery to move waste around as fire crews worked on suppressing the flames. 

McCullough said there's only a small portion of the landfill left uncovered, as the Collingwood landfill is nearly full. The fire was in this portion in the northeast corner of the landfill (different from the public-facing transfer station area). 

McCullough said it's difficult to say how the fire started since it was left to burn for a little while. The landfill was closed on Sunday with no work crews there. 

By the time McCullough arrived on Monday morning at the landfill site, around 8 a.m., he said it looked like the fire was mostly under control with a few hotspots being doused. A county employee, who was also a former volunteer firefighter, was using an excavator to help dig through the trash to find hot spots. 

The three main causes of fires in landfill, said McCullough, are household hazardous waste (like pool chemicals chucked in the garbage), lithium rechargeable batteries that get wet (like in the rain), and hot materials tossed into the trash and left to smoulder and start a fire once they get oxygen. 

"There's a million things that could have caused it," said McCullough, taking the opportunity to remind residents that there are important reasons behind the rules and directions for disposing of household hazardous waste. 

There are five depots across Simcoe County that accept household hazardous waste for free, and that includes pool chemicals, all types of batteries, fuels, cleaning products, paints and stains and automobile fluids. 

"We've got a way to deal with them," said McCullough. "Those are hazards that shouldn't be disposed of [in a landfill]." 

The fire was reported to the Spills Action hotline and the Ministry of the Environment. 

McCullough said he's grateful to the fire department and Collingwood landfill staff for their work to put out the fire this morning. The site is being monitored in case there are more flare-ups. County staff are also putting sand on top of the fire site to cut down on the air that can get to the trash.