The battle appears to be almost won to put out a fire at the Hay River landfill site.
“We’re hoping we’re seeing the end of the tunnel here,” said Deputy-Mayor Robert Bouchard, the spokesperson on the fire for the Town of Hay River, on March 22. “We’re starting to put out some of the spot fires that are there.”
“It’s close to being out,” he said, adding that it will be closely watched. “We want to put a lot more water on it to make sure that it’s extinguished completely.”
Two other developments indicate the progress made in putting out the fire.
A local state of emergency, which was first declared on March 10 because of the fire and renewed on March 17 for another seven days, expired on March 23 and was not extended by the town.
“So we’re going to let it lapse,” said Bouchard. “We’re hoping to fight the rest of the fire with our current staff of firefighters.”
The second positive sign was that Environment and Climate Change Canada stopped issuing special air quality statements about the fire on March 23. The advisories had warned about smoke from the dump fire blowing over the community.
As of March 22, Bouchard said there was very minimal smoke from the fire.
Excavators were still working on the fire, along with firefighters with hand hoses to put out the hotspots.
“Obviously we don’t want to leave it and get a call a few hours later that it flared up again,” said Bouchard. “So we want to make sure it’s completely out before we say it’s out.”
The deputy-mayor expects the fire will be out this week.
“That’s the plan,” he said on March 22.
The fire burned about three acres in the eastern corner of the dump.
“The big fire was mainly because we had a lot of construction materials in that area,” Bouchard noted.
The deputy-mayor said firefighters have done a great job fighting the fire.
“I think they’re starting to get tired, but the spirits were good throughout the whole period,” he said, adding that it has been a stressful time for firefighters with the Mackenzie Place fire on March 15. “There’s a lot of pressure there for them, but I think everyone just has that much more respect for them.”
The fire at the landfill was first noticed as smoke from underground on March 3, and it flared up on March 9.
It was contained to the east side of the dump, where there is predominantly household garbage and construction material.
The cause of the fire is unknown.