A fire broke out about 5 a.m. Thursday at the Montgomery County Solid Waste Transfer Station on Sandridge Road in Moraine. Trash caught fire on the site where it is deposited before being shipped to landfills, causing the closing of the facility. No one was reported injured. STAFF PHOTO

County garbage trash fire: ‘Just dig it out and keep applying water’

The county’s Solid Waste Transfer Station on Sandridge Drive reopened to both commercial and public customers by mid-afternoon, about 10 hours after fire crews responded the Moraine site near I-75.

“Our operations are getting back to normal,” county Environmental Services Communications Coordinator announced in a statement. “We will be open for regular business hours the rest of the week.”

Crews responded to the fire at the facility shortly before 5 a.m. Thursday, forcing employees and haulers off site, and the postponement of the start of a free, three-day appliance disposal program, which will begin Friday.

No injuries were reported and the blaze was put out by early afternoon, a county official said.

Thursday afternoon there was no dollar value estimate of the damage. But it was limited to some offices and the tipping floor where garbage is deposited after haulers make their pick-ups from customers throughout the county, Moraine Fire Chief David Cooper said.

“It’s a big building. There’s not much to burn other than the trash that’s in there,” he said.

Cooper said a definite cause had not been determined. However, it’s not uncommon for trash fires to flare up after haulers empty loads that can contain smoldering material, he said.

“And basically what happens is a fire starts down deep inside of it and it kind of snakes through,” Cooper added. “So you have to just dig it out and keep applying water.”

Moraine fire personnel were on the scene for more than seven hours, aided by crews from Dayton, Kettering and the Miami Valley Fire District, Cooper said.

The transfer station was not staffed overnight, he said, allowing the fire to get “a pretty good head start” before crews arrived. Yet he noted the “sprinkler system actually held it in check” for “quite some time until we got there.”

Crews used back hoes to separate the trash while using some 30,000 gallons of water to extinguish the flames, Cooper said.

“You almost have to move every bit of trash that’s on that floor,” he said. “So we just have to move it from one side to the other and we spray it down.”

While the transfer station was closed because of the fire, county employees were diverted to alternative work sites, and haulers were directed to dump their loads at landfills, Wooten said.

The blaze also set back the start of the Appliance Amnesty program. The appliance disposal program – free to county residents - is a twice-a-year opportunity for people to unload large, unwanted household items.