What’s that smell? Fire breaks out at Lexington waste facility

What’s that smell? Fire breaks out at Lexington waste facility
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 4:20 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - People in parts of Fayette County are looking for answers after a fire broke out at the Haley Pike Waste Facility.

Neighbors were complaining about both the smoke and smell. It grabbed the community’s attention thanks to a large plume of smoke that began to drift over Fayette and Clark Counties. While the fire was caused due to waste, it wasn’t what you think.

“It’s still under investigation but it’s believed it was spontaneous combustion. Any time you have mulch and muck and stuff like that, if it gathers into a few inches or more and you store it that way, it will generate heat. And after some time it will spontaneously combust,” said Major Wade Miracle of the Lexington Fire Dept.

Mulch fires are a fairly common phenomenon with Major Miracle saying they make around 100 calls if not more in Fayette County alone.

The waste treatment facility that caught fire this weekend was one of the debris drop off locations for this summer’s severe weather damage, allowing the site to accumulate substantial amounts of hay, manure and branches, setting it up for a potential fire risk that culminated in this weekend’s damage.

”Currently we have conditions that are just ripe for that. We have been pretty dry and we have some windy conditions so it was unfortunately just a perfect storm as they say for this to occur,” Major Miracle said.

Well over 100,000 gallons of water were used to put out the fire and six different stations were called to assist and bring their water tanks.

”It doesn’t hurt to occasionally go out when you water the yard - just through a little water on the mulch. And just be careful, rake it, check it - stuff like that,” said Major Miracle.

The Lexington Fayette Fire Department also wants to remind people to never put out a cigarette on or near mulch as that could result in a fire as well.