Officials Respond To Short Mountain Landfill Fires Over Weekend

May 16, 2019

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. 

Fire crews at Short Mountain Landfill.
Credit Jesse Berger / Lane County Public Works

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.

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

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. 

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

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. 

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