Karl Horeis, Appeal staff writer

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August 11, 2003
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Match heads suspected in landfill fire

A fire burned a quarter-acre of garbage at the Carson City Sanitary Landfill Sunday afternoon. Landfill Manager Marnell Heinz suspected a garbage bag full of match heads as the cause.

"We've had a rash of these match bombs out here over the last six months," he said, describing bags of red phosphorous match heads used in the manufacture of methamphetamines.

"The compression from the compacter ignites them. Once a week or so we get these things out here. Usually we spot them and can jump down off the compactors and put them out, but because of the wind today, it spread really fast," Heinz said.

As he spoke, a stiff wind blew east through the area, pushing white smoke and steam toward Mound House.

Carson City Fire Department firefighters hosed the flaming trash from two sides.

"They're just going to knock it down with foam," Heinz said at 4 p.m. "Actually, they've got it knocked down pretty good right now."

He said the dump has good firefighting capabilities of its own.

"We've got a water truck on hand and a big extinguisher in every vehicle," he said.

The firefighters weren't sure about match heads being the fire's cause.

"There's no telling what people are going to throw away," said one. "Fireplace ash, barbecue briquettes, spontaneous combustion from grass clippings -- who knows."

"It's just a typical dump fire, a shallow surface burn ," said Battalion Chief Dan Shirey. "It's highly compressed, which prevents it from spreading rapidly."

He said his 12 firefighters surrounded the fire with water and would move the burned trash and soak it with foam.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Aug 11, 2003 12:00AM Published Aug 11, 2003 02:33AM Copyright 2003 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.