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Officials Respond To Short Mountain Landfill Fires Over Weekend

Jesse Berger
Lane County Public Works

A landfill south of Eugene saw two fires just days apart, recently. Officials aren’t sure of the cause, but suspect lithium batteries are the likeliest culprits. 

Short Mountain Landfill off of Dillard Access Road a large fire Saturday night, with a smaller one early Monday morning.  Pleasant Hill Goshen and South Lane Fire crews assisted landfill personnel in responding to the incidents.

Credit Jesse Berger / Lane County Public Works
Lane County Public Works
Crews navigate the unstable terrain of the landfill.

Lane County spokesperson Devon Ashbridge says they’ve seen a growing number of fires caused by lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries, commonly found in cell phones, computers, and similar devices.

“Those can be very combustible, and when they get to the landfill…if they haven’t combusted yet, often the compactor and some of the equipment we have can cause those to either spark, begin to smoke, or sometimes they explode,” warns Ashbridge.

Lane County Waste Management has nine transfer stations that accept lithium batteries, located in Cottage Grove, Creswell, Florence, Glenwood, Marcola, Oakridge, Rattlesnake, Veneta and Vida. 

Credit Jesse Berger / Lane County Public Works
Lane County Public Works
Fire crews from two neighboring districts helped landfill personnel tackle the fires.

Chemicals and charcoal briquettes can also cause fires in the landfills.  With chemicals, they may interact with each other or other materials in the landfill, causing a combustible reaction.  With the briquettes, people are advised to close the vent to their grill and let the ash and coals cool for 48 hours, soaking it with water as an extra precaution.  They can then be wrapped in aluminum foil and put into a non-combustible garbage bin for regular pickup. 

Copyright 2019, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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