News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


PRESS RELEASE 07/24/2008
Subject :

Compost Fire in Palo Alto Landfill is Contained
Contact : Barbara Cimino, Emergency Manager, City of Palo Alto Fire Department    650-617-3164
Palo Alto, CA – Approximately two acres of burning compost (natural vegetation) at the Palo Alto Landfill Compost area has been contained. Damage was limited to the compost area and no equipment or structures were lost. The visible smoke and burning odor throughout Palo Alto has decreased significantly. The Palo Alto landfill will be closed today while cleanup efforts continue. Landfill users are being redirected to the SMaRT station in Sunnyvale located at 301 Carl Road, Sunnyvale CA 94089.  

Palo Alto Fire Department responded at 5:17 p.m. on Wednesday, July 23, evening to the Palo Alto Landfill Compost area. The fire started from a load of raw green waste delivered by a PASCO truck that contained some combustible contents. The compost consisted of natural vegetation and sawdust. There were no hazardous materials burning. Large amounts of smoke and smoke odor were evident in many parts of Palo Alto as well as neighboring communities so a city-wide informational notification was put out on the CANS system and neighboring cities notified of the situation.

Fire and Public Works Operation crews arrived on the scene quickly and began working to systematically remove the layers of the pile to eventually get to the seat of the fire.

Palo Alto was assisted by Mountain View, Woodside and Cal Fire. The flames were contained by early morning on Thursday, July 25, after breaking down the large piles of compost and saturating them with water.

"There was a deep-seated fire in the huge compost / wood chip piles, a type of fire that is very difficult to extinguish," according to Fire Incident Commander, Don Dudak. "It requires a long and methodical sifting process by crews to safely remove many tons of organic material to reach the hot spots and burning embers underneath the pile, and then saturate with water to extinguish them."

Extensive overhaul will take place over the next couple of days. Overhaul will consist of water tenders continuing to saturate the smaller piles to ensure that all embers and hotspots are extinguished.