Iowa City landfill fire continues to burn - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa City landfill fire continues to burn


People in Iowa City neighborhoods spent part of Tuesday afternoon under a cloud of smoke sparking worry about air quality.

"I'm a little concerned.  I hope that the city is taking air samples and just making sure it's safe," said Iowa City resident Craig Ziegenhorn.

Health officials say samples have come back clean and the air is safe to breathe. But general caution is recommended when smoke is overhead especially for the elderly, young, and people with pre-existing lung and heart conditions. The Iowa City Community School District is keeping its students inside and nurses on alert when the plume is present.

The fire is believed to have started after hot trash was dumped near the exposed tire lining of a new cell in the landfill. Nearly 72 hours later the massive burn continues with temperatures having been recorded at times as hot as twelve hundred degrees.

"It's like a charcoal burn right now. It's very low to the ground, just kind of a red glow,"  said Geoff Fruin assistant to the city manager in Iowa City.  

Crews are working to keep the 7.5 acre blaze contained instead of trying to put it out. They say the fire could burn into the weekend.

"To do anything with extinguishing updates would be labor intensive and very costly. There's the runoff aspect and concern to the environment," said Iowa City fire chief Andy Rocca.

Preliminary damage estimates put the city's price tag at $4-6 million.  For now officials can only watch and wait as this historic fire runs its course.

"We'll continue whatever efforts to limit the time that it's burning, but it's a big challenge ahead of us," Fruin said. 

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