Fire crews join forces to quell landfill fire

Courtesy photo Heavy smoke rises from a large mound of yard waste as firefighters survey their colleagues' progress in quelling the blaze Tuesday morning. Spontaneous combustion is the likely cause of the blaze, which broke out at the Nashua landfill around 6:30 a.m.

NASHUA – Smoke rose from the Four Hills Landfill Tuesday morning, drawing mutual aid tankers from surrounding towns to assist Nashua Fire Rescue.

Officials began receiving reports around 6 a.m. Tuesday regarding a large amount of smoke across much of the central portion of the city. Roughly an hour later, around 7 a.m., the source was located at the landfill. Responders found a large pile of yard debris burning in the eastern corner of the property.

With the area being remote from the main gate, and no fire hydrants within approximately a half-mile, mutual aid tankers from Hollis, Dunstable, Pepperell, Hudson and Tyngsboro responded to establish a tanker shuttle for water supply.

The burning pile of debris had visible pockets of surface fire, while a large amount of smoke generated from the interior of the pile.

To stop the spread of the fire, a loader from the facility was used to cut the pile. Hollis responders provided firefighting foam from the Souhegan Mutual Fire Aid Association foam bank to help extinguish the fire. Also, an environmental engineer from the landfill certified that the foam was PFOA-free in advance.

Courtesy photo A Hollis tanker truck feeds water to a Nashua fire engine as a firefighter uses the engine's deck gun to battle the smoky fire that broke out early Tuesday morning in a large pile of yard waste.

Officials extinguished the bulk of the visible fire by 9:30 a.m., but crews remained on the scene for some time, tearing apart the pile by using heavy machinery to assist in fully extinguishing the blaze. No injuries resulted from the incident.

The fire is believed to have been started by spontaneous combustion through the natural decomposition of materials in the pile. When material decays it produces heat. When the heat cannot be dissipated at a fast enough rate in the pile, this can result in ignition.

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or

Courtesy photo Firefighters walk around the perimeter of the large, smoky fire that broke out Tuesday morning in a yard waste pile at the Nashua landfill. The lack of hydrants in the far eastern section of the landfill necessitated bringing in tanker trucks from neighboring towns for water supply.

Courtesy photo A Nashua landfill earth mover is mostly obscured by smoke as the driver tries to spread burning yard waste to help firefighters quell the blaze that broke out in the large mound early Tuesday morning.