Woodchip pile tabbed as spark in Staten Island brush fire

April 11, 2012 5:54:26 AM PDT
A massive fire that burned through the former Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island is now contained, but firefighters will remain at the site the next few days to check hot spots and ensure that the fire does not re-ignite.

After touring the scene Tuesday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the smoke from the fire does not pose a threat to residents.

Officials say it looks like the fire started in a woodchip pile.

At its peak, more than 200 firefighters worked to contain the five-alarm blaze.

The West Shore Highway had to be completely shut down Monday when smoke covered the roadway and blocked visibility.

The fire, fueled by the remnants of Hurricane Irene, caused frustration for drivers and provided plenty of work for firefighters. Debris from the hurricane was hauled to the landfill last summer, and after a winter without much snow or rain, it was dry and ripe for burning.

Firefighters say it was a challenge to put the fire down.

"No snow keeping it moist through the winter, and no rain," FDNY Deputy Chief Roger Sakowich said. "I don't think you had this dryness like this, and the hurricane, with the amount of compost you had."

There was no threat to homes in the area, officials said.

Follow these guidelines to reduce the risk of brush fires:

  • Use ashtrays in vehicles. Discarding cigarettes, matches and smoking materials is a violation of New Jersey law.
  • Obtain necessary permits for campfires. Don't leave fires unattended. Douse them completely.
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children. Teach them the dangers of fire.
  • People living in the forest should maintain a defensible buffer by clearing vegetation within 30 feet of any structures. Also, make sure fire trucks can pass down your driveway.
  • Report suspicious vehicles and individuals. Arson is a major cause of forest fires in New Jersey.

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