The Steinbach Fire Department battled a fire at the Steinbach landfill Sunday afternoon.

The call came down at 3:45 pm. Eldon Wallman, head of Solid Waste, says it was actually a firefighter who spotted the fire while driving past the landfill Sunday afternoon. The fire department was dispatched and Wallman says it was quickly all hands on deck.

Wallman says for a call like that, they use their heavy equipment to push the burning garbage to an area where it can burn itself out. 

"Which is what it's doing this morning," he says. "Creating a little bit of smoke to the east of us."

Wallman says once those separated piles are burning, then the fire department can douse it and help extinguish it more quickly. 

Wallman notes their staff as well as Steinbach firefighters have taken training for landfill fires. 

"Because the landfill fire is different than anything else, it's not like a structure fire, it's not like a car fire or a bush fire, it's a little bit different, and you have to treat it differently and they all went through the training," he explains. "So, kudos to Kel Toews and all his gang there, they've done this training and it really shows, it's really good."

According to Wallman, there are countless ways that a fire can start at the landfill. He urges residents to watch what they throw into the garbage. Wallman says sometimes fires start from hot coals brought to the landfill. This could be accidental, but he notes there is a lot of kindling on site that can allow a fire to quickly spread. 

However, Wallman says lithium batteries are the biggest suspect nowadays. He notes the batteries may appear dead in your device but there is still enough juice that when they make contact with a wet paper towel or aluminum foil, those batteries heat up and can ignite quickly. 

With regards to batteries, Wallman reminds the public that they should not be placed into the garbage but rather brought to the hazardous waste depot at the Steinbach landfill. 

Fire at the Steinbach landfill (Eldon Wallman)The burning garbage was pushed to an area where it could burn itself out (Photo credit: Eldon Wallman).

With files from Corny Rempel