Cedar Grove Composting fire began in woodpile

August 17, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

UPDATED — 10:35 a.m. Aug. 18, 2009

Firefighters contained a blaze at a Cedar Grove Composting woodpile early Monday morning. Authorities monitored air quality near the facility south of Issaquah.

Maple Valley Fire & Life Safety Chief Larry Rude said the blaze was “very, very well contained” by 9:30 a.m. Monday.

Maple Valley fire crews responded to a report of a fire at about 5:45 a.m. Flames engulfed a woodpile and sent smoke billowing into the air. Firefighters contained the blaze within 45 minutes, while news helicopters hovered overhead.

By 9:30 a.m., crews were sealing the smoldering area with dirt and compost to starve the flames of oxygen. Rude said light winds and quick action by Cedar Grove employees prevented the fire from spreading.


Crews are monitoring a smoldering compost heap at Cedar Grove Composting. — By Greg Farrar

Rude said the blaze was likely caused by spontaneous combustion. He said moisture from rains last week caused pressure to build inside the compost heap.

Puget Sound Clean Air Agency officials arrived at the site at about 7:30 a.m. to monitor air quality. The agency will alert nearby residents if air quality drops.

No injuries occurred as a result of the blaze. Rude credited Cedar Grove for ensuring the safety of its workers.

Susan Thoman, corporate business development director for Cedar Grove owner Emerald Services Inc., said Cedar Grove had employees worked closely with firefighters to develop a fire response plan.

“Cedar Grove has a fire plan in place to effectively deal with these situations,” Thoman wrote in an e-mail. “We implemented this plan as soon as the fire was discovered. One of the steps we follow is to isolate a burning pile to avoid its spreading, which has been done in this case.”

Thoman said the fire started in a wood “reject” pile.

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