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A neighbor said she heard ‘explosions’ as the York County landfill caught fire

Part of the York County landfill caught fire early Thursday, with a neighbor reporting “explosion” sounds and the smell of burning trash.

“The landfill was on fire last night,” said a neighbor who lives beside the 30-acre site on Public Works Road in York, but who didn’t want to give her full name. “The sky was bright red. You heard six, seven little explosions. You could smell trash burning, everything.”

The neighbor said there were fires the past two nights, and that she couldn’t recall them in more than a dozen years in the area. Some pops from the fire “sounded like gunshots,” she said. She said it happened a little after 3 a.m. Thursday.

Eric Rekitt, director of the county public works department, said he did receive a call at about 1 a.m. Thursday about a fire at the landfill. He wasn’t aware of anything Tuesday night.

“Our construction and demolition landfill was on fire,” he said Thursday morning. “We worked to contain the fire using dirt. We’ve been working all night. We’ve got the fire contained, down to minimal flareups.”

There were no injuries or major damage to equipment. The fire impacted about half an acre of the 30-acre site. The landfill remains open, with dumping moved to another part of the site, he said.

The landfill takes construction and demolition debris, including wood, shingles, metal — the typical leftovers from home or businesses construction. With the amount of home building going on in Fort Mill, Tega Cay, Lake Wylie and elsewhere, the landfill gets plenty of traffic.

“It’s an industry that has its ups and downs,” Rekitt said, “but we’re on an up right now.”

York firefighters responded, and York police notified public works of the incident. The exact cause of the fire hasn’t been determined.

“It was trash, so we don’t know,” Rekitt said. “It is a construction and demolition landfill.”

While lumber and other potentially flammable materials are allowed at the landfill, the site doesn’t take anything that’s been burned. It doesn’t take hazardous materials. There shouldn’t have been embers or anything else of the sort there, though materials coming in by the truckload can be difficult to inspect piece by piece, he said..

“The reality is, sometimes that stuff slips through,” Rekitt said. “We can only ask so many questions.”

The fire was “pretty widespread,” but Rekitt said by mid-morning it was contained.

John Marks: jmarks@fortmilltimes.com; @JohnFMTimes
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