Smoke from Staten Island Brush Fire Not a Health Concern, Mayor Says

By Nicholas Rizzi on April 10, 2012 8:29pm 

Mayor Michael Bloomberg talks to firefighters at the scene of the massive brush fire at the Fresh Kills Landfill on April 10, 2012.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg talks to firefighters at the scene of the massive brush fire at the Fresh Kills Landfill on April 10, 2012.
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DNAInfo/Nicholas Rizzi

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 fire 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. 

Yet some nearby residents were worried about the safety of the air yesterday,

"The smell was horrendous," said Lisa Romano, 45, who was working at the West Shore Inn restaurant on Victory Boulveard. "You hear people talking [saying], 'I wonder what we're breathing in.'"

An estimated 200 firefighters battled the blaze, which spread to roughly a square mile, officials said. Smoke could be seen from miles away.

The fire snarled traffic on the West Shore Expressway and Island roads, which Romano said hurt business yesterday.

"Everything was backed up to kingdom come," she said. "The whole Island was basically at a standstill."

Business returned to normal today, she said, as the smell of the smoke dissipated.

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.

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