Milner Landfill fire safely contained Tuesday |

Milner Landfill fire safely contained Tuesday

Monday night blaze suspected to be caused by improper disposal of combustible materials

Melinda Dudley

— A fire that broke out Monday night at the Milner Landfill is suspected to be caused by the improper disposal of combustible materials and was safely contained by landfill employees early Tuesday morning.

“It must’ve been a load of trash that came in as what we term ‘hot,’ possibly oily debris or construction waste,” Milner Landfill general manager David Epstein said.

Landfill employees were able to handle the blaze on their own, thanks to the presence of the landfill’s own heavy equipment and water tender. The fire was contained by about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Crews removed the ignited trash from the dump site where the fire began, then transferred the trash to another location where it was doused with water and buried, effectively putting the fire out, Epstein said.

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue was asked to respond to the scene Monday night, after the fire broke out at about 8:45 p.m., but its crews were called off since landfill employees were able to control the fire on their own.

Although grass and trash fires at the landfill used to be relatively common, procedures including compacting the trash and covering it with dirt on a regular basis significantly have reduced their frequency, Routt County Emergency Management Director Chuck Vale said.

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The Milner Landfill has had a few similar fires in the past five years, Epstein said, and they tend to be caused by the improper disposal of combustible materials in the trash.

Even something as seemingly small as a rag thrown away after staining a deck could have caused Monday night’s fire, Epstein said.

Paints, oil-based solvents, batteries, tires, computers, televisions and other combustible materials cannot be thrown in the trash with everything else and must be brought to the landfill separately for safe disposal, Epstein said.

The Milner Landfill is working on developing a household hazardous waste disposal facility, targeted to open within the next year, Epstein said.

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