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Forum staff reports, Published February 28 2014

Compost site fire creates smoke odor in Moorhead, Dilworth

MOORHEAD – A compost fire burning here since Tuesday morning caused smoke to billow into residential areas of Moorhead and Dilworth on Friday.

A release from the Moorhead Fire Department said a large wood chip pile fire was reported just after 9 a.m. on Tuesday at the city of Moorhead compost site on U.S. Highway 75 North.

The fire had been smoldering for more than 24 hours and was so deep into the high pile of wood chips that crews had to slowly break down the pile to get to the fire.

Fire crews used front-end loaders and other heavy equipment to spread out the burning material, which allowed it to either burn out or be extinguished with small water lines, the release said.

The fire intensified on Thursday night and Friday morning when strong winds gusted out of the south and turned northwesterly, the release said.

The wind drove light smoke into residential areas in northeast Moorhead and western parts of Dilworth. With winds of more than 15 mph forecast on Friday, the smoke was expected to continue into the afternoon and early evening, fire officials said.

The wood chips might continue to smolder for several days, but the smoke will decrease as winds lessen to under 10 mph out of the north-northwest on Saturday and switching to the West on Sunday, the release said.

The burning material is composed of wood chips mechanically ground from trees and tree limbs at the compost site and do not contain any chemical treatments, said fire officials.

The hazards posed by the smoke should be no different than that from a wood fired stove or campfire.