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Forum staff reports, Published March 12 2014

Wood chip pile at compost site in Moorhead continues to smolder

MOORHEAD – A massive wood chip pile at the compost site here that’s been burning for more than two weeks continues to smolder, which could continue to cause smoky conditions for residents.

Parts of a large wood chip pile at the compost site on U.S. Highway 75 North in Moorhead has been burning since Feb. 25, and fire crews battled strong winds and subzero temperatures Feb. 28 to try to extinguish the smoldering pile, according to a news release from the Moorhead Fire Department.

Fire officials met Wednesday to evaluate the fire, smoke and weather conditions over the next week. The wood chip pile has been segregated into smoldering and non-smoldering piles. The smoldering materials are still several feet deep in some areas.

Winds from the northwest starting tonight into Friday morning could bring smoke into Moorhead through Saturday evening, the release stated.

The fire was caused by spontaneous combustion as decomposition occurred within the pile and heat was unable to escape, the release said. The large wood chip pile is not a normal condition at the compost site and is not likely to be repeated.

The burning material is composed of wood chips mechanically ground from trees and tree limbs and do not contain chemical treatments, the release said. The hazards posed by the smoke should be no different than that from a wood fired stove or campfire.