Missouri AG weighs in on Sunday's fire at Bridgeton Landfill

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by Diana Zoga / News 4 | @DIANAZOGA

KMOV.com

Posted on February 16, 2014 at 5:35 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 17 at 6:40 PM

(KMOV.com) -- Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster met with officials at the Bridgeton Landfill and Patonville Fire Protection District, following a fire at the landfill Sunday morning.

The fire broke out along the southern edge of the landfill, a source of complaints about the smell and concerns that underground smoldering would reach a nearby Superfund site.

Pattonville's Assistant Fire Chief Matt Lavanchy says firefighters were notified of the fire when a police officer on patrol noticed the fire and called it in.  The department began monitoring the air near the landfill and determined it wasn't necessary to evacuate the neighborhood nearby.   

But Lavanchy says the landfill did not provide technical information about the fire until about two hours later.  Firefighters called contact numbers for the landfill, but couldn't reach anyone immediately.

"We were fielding phone calls from the news media and from concerned citizens and for that two hour period, we didn’t know what to tell them other than the fact that we’re monitoring the air too and its not necessary to evacuate your homes right now," said Lavanchy.

Republic Services said the fire was small and that its own crews took care of it.  

In a statement, emailed to News 4 on Monday, a spokesman for Bridgeton Landfill, LLC wrote:  "As part of our investigation into the origin of the surface fire, we are conducting an after-action review of the entire incident to include notification of and coordination with first responders. The EPA was on site at the time of the incident, and Pattonville Fire Department was early onto the scene, consistent with the response plan. We appreciate everyone’s coordination and prompt response yesterday morning."

Chris Koster told News 4 he believes the landfill should have been in touch with Pattonville Fire earlier, "There is a level of communication that is expected from Republic to the fire department that should have occurred on a more timely basis and I think improvements can be made along those lines.

Koster said he expected there would be meetings this week to hammer out a more detailed protocol for how and when the landfill shared information with other first responders.

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