STATEN ISLAND — The seemingly endless clouds of thick smoke caused by the massive brush fire at the Fresh Kills Landfill should not pose a health hazard to area residents, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday.
The five-alarm five that erupted Monday in several 15-foot high piles of mulch was finally under control early Tuesday morning, fire officials said.
Even though the fire was inside the shuttered dump, its smoke did not contain any hazardous materials, the mayor said.
"This is just a regular fire and there's some smoke that goes up into the air," Bloomberg said at a press conference. "There's no safety hazard here."
The compost mainly contained Christmas trees and downed trees from tropical storm Irene, officials said.
An estimated 200 firefighters battled the blaze, which spread to roughly a square mile, officials said. Smoke could be seen from miles away and snarled traffic on the West Shore Expressway.
The Fire Department will keep crews on the scene for several days to make sure the fire stays under control, the mayor said.
"You have to wait a few days before you find out whether they've gotten everything," Bloomberg said. "You can't tell way down inside the pile there may be something smoldering then all of a sudden it will spring up."
The fire began around 11 a.m. Monday and took firefighters about 17 hours to extinguish it, officials said.
Officials weren't sure of the cause of the fire, but believe the pile ignited itself due to dry air and warm weather. They did not suspect arson as a cause.