Air testing planned for landfill fire near Medicine Hat
Smoke reduces visibility, residents urged to stay away from fire
A stubborn fire at a private landfill a few kilometres east of Medicine Hat continues to burn, with Alberta Health officials on the way to measure air quality.
"Air monitoring equipment is being prepared for deployment right now to be sent to Medicine Hat for on-scene monitoring. That equipment should arrive sometime this evening and once it has arrived the equipment will stay on site as long as it's needed," said Alberta Environment spokeswoman Sarah Jackson on Tuesday.
Firefighters from three departments have already trucked in water and battled strong winds to try and douse the burning wood, insulation, shingles and other materials that are buried in a very deep hole in rural Cypress County.
"We exhausted quite a few different methods of trying to extinguish this fire, all of which had no impact on downsizing the size of this fire," said Dennis Mann, emergency services chief for Cypress County.
"A fairly large black plume of smoke is emanating from the pit, It can be seen from several miles …There are certainly lots of toxic materials that are burning right now."
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Mann is trying to get provincial assistance, hoping for help from experts trained in fighting landfill fires.
"It's about ten years of construction materials," he said. "A real hodge-podge of products that we are dealing with here. We threw several thousand gallons of water and foam and dry chemical on this fire to no avail."
He is not sure how the fire started, but doesn't think it can spread due to the snow. Mann is urging people to stay away from the area.
Range Road 45 and Township Road 130 west of Highway 41 were closed Tuesday because heavy smoke was obscuring visibility.
Alberta Environment officials are heading to the area to monitor the air quality.