Around 10 p.m. Monday night, a passing motorist traveling along Interstate 90 saw flames from their vehicle coming from the Moorcroft landfill. Fireman Fred Devish was first on scene to ascertain the extent of the problem.
“I went out and looked at it and [decided] we needed to have the fire department come out,” he recalls. The fire was contained within the burn pit, but, “with all the wood and stuff in there, it burned really hot”.
The fire crew watered the flames down, “so it wasn’t burning quite so wildly in the wind,” said Devish. “Then we let it burn and it burned on into the next afternoon.”
The department kept a fire truck on site to watch over the fire until the situation was in hand before turning the site back to the town employees. It’s thought the blaze was caused by human intervention.
“The last time we burned the pit was over a month ago and we cleaned the pit all out and dug it deeper and put a bunch of railroad ties from the school wall [into the pit]. None of my guys burned it so it had to be someone who had a key or jumped the fence, [but] there’s no proof,” says Public Works Director Cory Allison. “There is no accidental way a fire could have started in that pit.”
This opinion is supported by Devish, who says, “There wasn’t any real reason for it to catch on fire.”
The state fire marshal and DCI began an investigation of this fire as well as the one on Sunny Divide the same night, which was determined to be human caused. Volunteer fireman Rusty Williamson reports that the two suspicious fires, which started within 14 hours, of each other, are being investigated simultaneously though there is no evidence that they are connected.
Williamson stated they know the fire was not “naturally” started; the question that remains is whether it an accident or deliberate.
By Grace Moore