Cause of Republic Fire in Hazelwood Unable to be Determined
Hazelwood Fire Chief Dave Radel said there will be zero-tolerance for similar events in the future.
The Hazelwood Fire Department (HFD) rushed in along with backup from more than four neighboring fire districts to calm the fire, where it was determined mounds of trash piled around the recycling center are what fueled the three-alarm fire.
The smoked has cleared, but unfortunately, a conclusive cause for the fire cannot be determined, according to Hazelwood Fire Chief Dave Radel.
"Some fires are just not going to have a cause," he said. "When we arrived it was about containing the fire.
"When you dump hundreds of metric tons of water on piles of paper and plastic it’s going to be difficult to go back through and uncover a source."
Radel was quick to note, that it doesn't rule out poor monitoring.
"That’s not saying negligence didn’t contribute to the fire, but it’s not possible to uncover a cause," he said. "The good news moving forward is we’ve had several meetings with Republic and the big problem, which was the amount of loose material not under sprinkler protection, will no longer be an issue."
Republic has hired a security company to do a 24-hour a day, 7-days a week fire watch on the site until construction is complete, Radel said.
Republic Services is currently in the process of a multimillion dollar renovation and expansion to add technology to make the sorting process more efficient and enable the company to triple its recycling capacity from around 10 tons per hour to as much as 30 tons per hour.
"We are real comfortable about how the site will now be watched," Radel said. "We also worked out the new structure for the site moving forward after construction is complete, which will require all loose material to be in a sprinkler protected areas.
"They know we will be enforcing it closely and there is a zero-tolerance policy."
HFD had to bring in three aerial trucks and extra man power because of the excessive temperatures on that Saturday. The biggest concern was ensuring the fire didn't spread next door to AmeriGas propane company. The location had 40,000 gallons stored on the premise.
Luckily, Radel said the wind and Mother Nature agreed with the firefighters, as it was not blowing in it’s typical direction for Hazelwood.
"Had the wind been blowing as it usually does we would have had to put up water curtains to protect the fire from spreading to the propane tanks next door and would not have been able to focus on extinguishing the fire," he said. "The conditions couldn’t have been better for a more favorable outcome.