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Public Safety

Fire erupted at the Dillingham landfill metal pile on Thursday

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Maria Dosal
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A fire burned in the Dillingham landfill's metal pile. June 2, 2022.

A fire started at the Dillingham landfill metal pile on Thursday. It was first reported around 6:30 p.m.

Maria Dosal and her fiance were meeting with members of the local skeet club that evening. The range is at the landfill.

“We look over and we see this big, huge, black, cloud of smoke coming up, and we’re like, ‘That’s not supposed to happen,’” Dosal said. “We called 911 and told them that we needed to get people on the fire as soon as possible because it was already raging.”

Dan Tipsword, the lead mechanic for the City of Dillingham, got a call around 7:30 p.m.

“It was hot, and the smoke was — we had tires burning, all kinds of stuff out in there, cause it was burning underneath,” he said. “And the smell and the thickness of the smoke was just horrendous.”

The weather has been hot and sunny, with highs in the upper 70s. The black plume of smoke could be seen from town.

Tipsword said the cause of the fire is still unknown.

“There is propane tanks out there that have been dropped out there, and there is vehicles that have been crushed, so there’s a lot of flammable stuff for sure,” he said.

Dillingham’s Volunteer Fire Department responded along with airport staff from the Department of Transportation, an ambulance and other volunteers, including Bennet Enterprises and JJC construction. An OBI seafood tanker truck helped supply water.

Volunteers were able to protect the city’s excavator, and the city’s animal control officer worked at the landfill entrance to turn people away.

Tipsword said they were able to get the fire under control, but then it flared back up.

“We had the fire retardant, they flew in and did one good spray. But it started to kick up again about 11:30. But we had fire guys out there pushing and watering it down,” he said.

To prevent fires at the landfill, Tipsword said people who dispose of propane tanks should make sure those tanks are empty before dropping them off.

“They have to have the valve taken off. And if the valve can’t come off, at least drill a hole through the tanks so it can relieve any residual fuel,” he said.

On Friday afternoon, wisps of smoke could still be seen rising from the fire. Tipsword said it will be several days before the fire is fully extinguished.

A burn ban remains in effect in Dillingham. The metal pile will be closed until further notice, but the rest of the landfill is open during normal hours.

This article has been updated to include the Department of Transportation staff among those who responded to the fire.

Get in touch with the author at izzy@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.