New information: Debris pile fire caused by spontaneous combustion
BATON ROUGE - Fire investigators said Wednesday, an overnight fire at the bottom of a large pile of flood debris was sparked by spontaneous combustion.
Around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, fire crews were dispatched to the debris collection site on N. Sherwood Forest. A fire had developed in the base of a pile, and smoke was seen billowing into the sky. When WBRZ.com broke the story, the fire department said numerous crews were on the scene and assessing air quality as a precaution.
It took about 90 minutes to get the fire under control. It was believed to be put out around midnight. There was no environmental concern, sources said.
Wednesday morning, the fire department said the pile was so deep and dry from a lack of rain that heat and pressure built up at the bottom and sparked the fire. The fire department said it is very unlikely a similar situation could happen at smaller piles stacked outside homes and businesses because the piles are not nearly as large as the ones stacked at collection sites. The collection sites are where debris removal contractors have been dumping flood debris.
Flood debris is left in piles at various locations across the region to expedite the removal of debris from curbs. The debris is moved from the sites to the dump.
The Sherwood location is no longer taking debris and crews are now focused on removing all the debris from the site. The lot could be returned to its empty, pre-flood status by the end of October, DEQ said.
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