A fire occurred at the Sandoval County Landfill off of Paseo Del Volcan at around 6 p.m. Tuesday.
According to Battalion Chief Ryan Floersheim, 25 personnel from both the fire department and the waste management staff worked together until midnight to get the fire down.
“When we got there, Waste Management was already using their equipment to push the burning trash,” Floersheim added.
The department received several calls from people passing by on Paseo Del Volcan and Iris Road about the fire.
To douse the flames, the crew used a tactic where they use water tenders, or large swimming pools filled with water, to fuel water for the trucks. This tactic is used when there is no fire hydrant near by.
Floersheim thanked Sandoval County Fire Department and waste management for helping. However, the cause of the flames can’t be determined.
“There could be many reasons why it started, like someone put embers in their trash and it got compacted or something shiny reflected the sun onto combustible material or any number of things,” he said.
The estimated size of the fire was 1 1/2 acres.
“Luckily, no one was hurt,” Floersheim said.
This is not the first dump fire to occur in Rio Rancho as there was a fire at another dump a few weeks prior and a fire at the same dump the year before.
While several members of the Rio Rancho community have expressed concern to the fire department about the toxicity of the smoke, Floersheim says that if there were a threat to people’s health, the department would notify those impacted.
“The potential toxicity of smoke is always a concern for our department, and something that during routine structure fires we monitor continually using specialized equipment,” he said.
He added that in the case of the landfills, members of the community would not be impacted by the smoke and air quality.
“It is difficult for us to assess these things because of the widespread area involved. Fortunately, the landfills are relatively secluded from the neighboring communities and there was not significant wind conditions on either incident,” Floersheim said.
Because of these factors, neither of the recent landfill fires raised any concerns for the department regarding the toxicity of the air.