NORRIDGEWOCK — Three firefighters were taken by ambulance Tuesday afternoon to a local hospital from the effects of fighting a stubborn, smoky fire at the Waste Management Crossroads Landfill off Mercer Road in Norridgewock.

Landfill district manager Jeff McGown said the fire was caused by spontaneous combustion in a small, seldom-used area of the 115-acre landfill.

Capt. Steve Ireland, of the Norridgewock Fire Department, said the three firefighters suffered from heat stress and smoke inhalation at the fire, which first was reported about 2:20 p.m. Tuesday at the sprawling landfill off U.S. Route 2 and Airport Road. They were treated and released from Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan.

“They’re back — full duty,” Ireland said Wednesday. “It was black-and-whiteish smoke. It was high. It took awhile — it probably took a couple hours to bring it under control. There was a lot of fire around there when we first initially attacked it, so we were trying to push it back, trying to succumb it.”

He said the fire was extinguished, but a brief flareup occurred around midnight Tuesday into early Wednesday.

Ireland said about 50 firefighters and equipment from seven area communities battled the fire on an estimated 2.2 acres of landfill for more than two hours. He said efforts were hampered when the wind came up, further igniting what appeared to be household garbage and possibly tire chips.

Crews responded from Norridgewock, Skowhegan, Madison, Anson, Solon, Smithfield and New Sharon.

Ireland said flames were showing when his crews first arrived at the scene.

“We’ve been working with Waste Management,” he said. “Waste Management also had — guesstimated — 20 people out there assisting. They also had water trucks out there, too. Excellent teamwork, and we appreciate all the mutual aid fire departments for assisting.”

McGown, the district manager, echoed Ireland’s comments, noting the quick response and hard work area firefighters put in to contain the blaze to a small area.

“We’re so fortunate for all the firefighters and emergency personnel who responded here to help us,” he said. “It was most appreciated.”

McGown said the fire started in the northeast corner of the landfill, in an area they call Phase 8. He said the fire started from spontaneous combustion in some wood chips used as a cover product.

“It was a small section, but still very concerning to us,” he said.

Ireland said fire crews got water from several sources, including a 30,000-gallon holding tank that was in place at the landfill.

“They were ready,” he said of Waste Management staff. “They had that installed for a sprinkler system in one of their buildings.”

Ireland said no buildings were damaged in the fire, but his department lost five hoses to the flames.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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