Sevier County Compost Plant Fire

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy
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Pigeon Forge (WVLT) - The smell of burning garbage still reeks in Sevier County's air. Firefighters continue battling a fire at the county's composting facility, but they say the flames have destroyed the building.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy has more on what the county will now do with your trash.

The Sevier Solid Waste Composting Facility gets all the county's garbage, but Monday, it wasn't the smell, but the smoke that got attention. The thick black cloud could be seen 20 miles away, and the fire's still smoldering.

Flames turn the home of Sevier County's garbage into a garbage pile.

"The building's pretty much a total loss," Pigeon Forge Fire Chief Tony Watson said.

All Pigeon Forge Fire Chief Tony Watson saw at first was the billowing smoke, but it was enough.

"I could see a large, dark, plume of smoke all the way from the other side of the parkway. I knew we had a significant fire," Watson said.

The flames at The Sevier Solid Waste Composting Facility lit up around 10:15 Monday morning. Sparked by an electrical motor, the garbage and compost inside made perfect kindling.

"The dust that was accumulating inside the building caused the fire to go from end to end," Watson said.

But the machine digesters used to make compost are anything but garbage.

"The digesters are worth about a million dollars a piece and having about six of those digesters, we put all our efforts in saving those," Watson said.

And the efforts of more than 10 fire departments paid off there, but the building cannot be salvaged. So now, what about your trash?

"We have a number of days that we can take the solid waste back to the landfill so in the interim that's what we'll do," Sevier County mayor Larry Waters said.

Now more than eight hours after the fires erupted, the flames have still left the mark. Crews are now here to tear down this wall, which just collapsed, but they're thankful all that came out of the building was burnt trash.

"We can replace buildings, but when someone gets injured that's such a tragedy. We're fortunate," Waters said.

As the flames die down, the work's far from over.

"It's safe to say we'll be here for quite some time," Watson said.

To trash most of this garbage facility. It took firefighters two hours to contain the fire. Chief Watson says there are still flames burning inside the building, and firefighters will be there all night and for at least the next couple of days. He doesn't have a damage estimate, but says most of the building will torn down.

Even with all the smoke, no nearby neighborhoods were evacuated.


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