UPDATE: Johnson County landfill reopens as fire continues to bu - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Johnson County landfill reopens as fire continues to burn

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

A county landfill in Iowa City is reopen on a limited basis even as a massive fire continues to burn for a fourth day.

The landfill that serves Johnson County and surrounding communities said that residential trash collection would resume Tuesday. The landfill will take trash from municipal and commercial haulers, but others will not have access to dumping services until further notice.

The fire is burning a layer of shredded tires, which is producing heavy black smoke.

Officials say the blaze started Saturday evening, and spread across a containment line constructed Saturday night.

The fire is burning in the landfill's lining system, which is made mainly of shredded tires. Fire crews say it's now spread to most of the remaining lining system, producing additional smoke.

Rick Fosse, director of Iowa City public works, said he believes crews will contain the fire to seven of the landfill's 160 acres.

"There really is no good way to extinguish tires once they're burning, and that's really what you see burning there," he said. "The tires are a component of the landfill liner system. That's not the garbage that's burning out there."

Over the weekend, the wind shifted to carry smoke towards residential areas, But Officials say the wind can be helpful. 

"Now that things are burning, the wind works in our favor as well in that it will help the fire to burn out faster and it helps to disperse the cloud of smoke," Fosse said.

The fire started around 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the working face of the landfill, where garbage was dumped earlier in the day. Due to strong winds, the fire quickly spread.

"We had a virtually new landfill cell, so very little of it was covered with garbage when the fire took place. Typically, our landfill's not vulnerable to a fire like this," Fosse said.

Firefighters said not much can be done to put out the fire, so the strategy is to keep it contained and let it burn out. They say the process could take several days.

The Johnson County Health Department is coordinating with the State Hygienic's Lab Air Quality Department to begin air quality monitoring.  

The health department says anyone with respiratory, heart or other conditions which may be aggravated by smoke and the young and elderly should shelter in places with outside sources of air shut off.

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