McPherson Landfill catches on fire, put out several hours later

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MCPHERSON COUNTY (KAKE) -

A fire was reported at the McPherson County landfill Sunday, north of McPherson, putting firefighters in a nearly 15 hour fight with the flames.

The smoky haze now sits atop the landfill. The wind originally pushed the plume of smoke to the south into the town of McPherson. As soon as it got to town, residents said they noticed the difference in the air.

 "It did smell like burnt plastic really bad," Amanda Reeves said, a resident of McPherson.

The national weather service kept track of the smoke, releasing a map that showed the smoke moving to the south into Reno and Harvey counties. Fire officials in McPherson said they worried about toxins being in the smoke, urging people to limit their time outside Sunday and early Monday morning.

"Because of the product out here, and the landfill and it burning we had such high winds yesterday that it was blowing into the community of McPherson," Deputy Chief Dennis Darby of the McPherson Fire Department said.

Reeves said she has been dealing with strep throat, along with a long history of difficulty with breathing due to lung issues. According to her, the smoke didn't help.

"I had to go to the ER because my lungs were acting up," she said.

The smoke is still out at the landfill, but fire officials have determined it to be harmless with no toxins in it after monitoring the air quality for several hours. As work there continues, the main question is how it started.

"We don't have any idea," said John Hawk, the general manager for McPherson Solid Waste Utility. "A lot of things come in the trash and a lot of them can combust and start a fire."

Hawk said they try to monitor what trash goes into the landfills by making it go over scales.

"And our gate clerks ask what might be in there and they'll determine if there's something that shouldn't come in," Hawk said.

No crews were on site Sunday, according to Hawk, so he said the fire got bigger than it would have if someone was there. So, residents like Reeves said they are thankful for the quick response before it cause more problems.

"The word did spread and people got it figured out, and they got it taken care of, so they did good," Reeves said.

The area will smolder for about one to two weeks according to fire officials and it will be monitored.

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