Firefighters battle flames at Olathe trash facility - KCTV5 News

Firefighters battle flames at Olathe trash facility

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Fire investigators are working to determine the cause of the flames. (KCTV5) Fire investigators are working to determine the cause of the flames. (KCTV5)

Firefighters battled a fire at Olathe’s solid waste transfer station late Thursday evening.

The fire started about 10:30 p.m. near 151st Street and Lone Elm Road.

Crews battled the fire for nearly four hours, at one point putting out a flaming pile of trash that was 20-feet tall. They say the fire was contained to the facility.

Waste manager Kent Seyfried says the doors to the facility are electronic, so when the power was cut, firefighters were unable to get inside the building and had to cut their way in.

Firefighters had to tear through mounds of trash, some as tall as 20 feet, to make sure the fire was completely out. 

The cause of the fire is under investigation but Seyfried says it definitely started in the trash and was not an electrical issue. 

Seyfried says the facility closes at 4 p.m. and says whatever caused the fire had been smoldering for hours.

No injuries were reported during the fire. Teams are doing a damage assessment to see if any equipment or buildings were damaged. Seyfried says the earliest that state inspectors could assess the damage would be on Monday.

"The nice part is, it's not near any other structures and no one's been hurt, absolutely no injuries," Olathe Fire Captain Mike Hall said. "And, it's a good place for us to work as far as space goes. We got plenty of water."

Seyfried says the building and some equipment did sustain significant damage. He says the damage was done by the heat and not the flames and that it got so hot that it melted controllers and other equipment.

"The heat was enough that there's some damage to the plexiglass windows and the control panels and things like that," Seyfried said.

Officials say a heat detector inside the building alerted them to the fire.

Hall says the weather Thursday night and into Friday morning was a concern for his crew.

"It's very humid and a lot of the folks are still sweating, which is a good sign. They are sweating and we are trying to replace those fluids as best we can, check those vital signs, make sure everyone is doing well and watch out for each other," Hall said. 

Firefighters from Olathe Lenexa and Johnson County Fire District No. 1 battled the fire.

Firefighters and members of the Public Works Department worked closely throughout the incident. The Olathe Police Department and Johnson County Med-Act also assisted at the scene.

The transfer station is closed until further notice. However, regular trash and recycling services will operate as normally scheduled. 

Seyfried says pick-up may take a little longer in the day but it will get done the day it is scheduled.

Anyone who needs to drop off waste will have to go to the Johnson County landfill.

Seyfried asks everyone to be careful what they throw out.

He says chemicals have specific instruction on how to dispose of them and for people who throw out cigarettes to make sure they’re out.

"People can bring those kind of insecticides, pesticides, and chemicals, pool chemicals, gasoline, oil, that kind of thing to our program on a scheduled drop off basis as opposed to putting that in the trash," Seyfried said. 

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