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  • Sarah Reeves

Incident Report: March 22 Container Fire

At approximately 2:00 p.m. on March 22, 2024, staff noticed a plume of smoke coming from one of the large garbage containers at Lopez Solid Waste (“the dump”). Staff promptly evacuated all customers from the site, moved quickly away from the container and called Lopez Fire & EMS. 


“Any fire in a dumpster needs to be considered a potential hazmat situation,” said Justin Hagge, LSWDD Facility Manager. “We will always evacuate in this instance and take every precaution to ensure the site is cleared.” 


Lopez Fire & EMS arrived promptly on-site with two engines and an incident command vehicle. Responders observed only smoldering materials in the container and no open flames. They notified neighbors of the incident and closed a section of Fisherman Bay Road in proximity to Lopez Solid Waste, routing traffic away from the site. Because this was a small fire with minimal spread, the incident commander did not evacuate neighboring homes. 


Staff who had been in proximity to the container were evaluated and cleared by Lopez EMS. 


Lopez Fire removed a number of items from the container and identified a metal can filled with an unknown substance as a potential source of the fire. The can’s contents could have been ignited by a spark after the garbage was compressed. Other hazardous materials found in the container included fertilizer, pesticides, and cleaning materials. 


To avoid potential run-off, no water was used during the incident response.


By 4:00 p.m. on March 22, the site was deemed safe and released by Lopez Fire & EMS back to LSWDD staff. The container was left open overnight and monitored by LSWDD and Lopez Fire. LSWDD staff consulted CHEMTREC and The Washington State Department of Ecology and are currently awaiting further information before safely removing materials from the container. The container will be closed until remaining materials can be safely removed. 


The dump is safe and open for regular operating hours: Friday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. LSWDD will continue to update the Lopez Island community as more information becomes available. 


Important Reminder: Do not dispose of hazardous waste at the dump EXCEPT during LSWDD's annual Household Hazardous Waste Roundup. Household hazardous waste includes pesticides, fungicides and other poisons; gasoline and other used fuels; wood preservatives; solvents and thinners; pool and photo chemicals; resins; corrosives; degreasers; cleaning products; mercury; rechargeable batteries; propane cylinders; and aerosols. Qualifying paint products can be dropped off for reuse or recycling on Sundays only. This year, the Household Hazardous Waste Roundup will take place on May 11, 2024, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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