Waste District talks trash fire

Sep 13, 2020

At the latest Carver Marion Wareham Waste District meeting, members discussed a fairly widespread fire that burned at the landfill in Carver, which is owned by the district and operated by Covanta-SEMASS.

The fire took place on Sunday, August 22, when no one was at the site.

The cause is unknown, although members said they thought it might have been sparked by the sunlight getting magnified through a piece of glass on the landfill, as was the case at a similar fire.

The fire eventually spread to cover about a quarter of an acre, and burned about two feet deep into the landfill itself.

According to the Carver Fire Department, the fire was difficult to fight as the only access was up an unfinished roadway that was unfinished and sometimes obstructed by piles of trash. An excavator and bulldozer were used to dig out the burning piles of trash, and more than 8,000 gallons of water were shuttled in. Crews also established a water supply from a nearby cranberry bog.

In total, about 35 Carver firefighters used nine pieces of equipment to contain and extinguish the fire.

At the district’s meeting on September 10, member Jim Munise said he was surprised that he only heard about the fire second-hand. 

Members were also concerned that the fire was able to get so big. Contractually, trash should only be 25% of the volume of material disposed by Covanta-SEMASS, with the remaining 75% being ash, which is not flammable.

District Director Jeffrey Osuch explained that because the landfill is almost full, there is likely a higher percentage of trash close to the surface because it is easier to line and cap the landfill on a foundation of trash than on a foundation of ash. 

Carver Selectman Bob Belbin, also a member of the waste district committee, reported that Covanta-SEMASS worked with the town to make sure that firefighters would be more easily able to respond to future fires on the site.