Extinguishing Landfill Fire to Cost $665,000 Hot Spots Still at McDuffie Site

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THOMSON, Ga. -- Extinguishing an underground fire at a defunct McDuffie County landfill will cost about $665,000, according to Georgia's Environmental Protection Division.

"That's just an estimate at this point, and a rough estimate at that," said EPD Communications Director Vince Dollard.

EPD and state contractors began fighting the fire at the abandoned Williams-Mesena Landfill on Sept. 13 -- four days after it began. No cause has been determined.

EPD and its contractors were joined by Summit Environmental, an Indiana company hired by former operators and patrons of the site. Summit, which specializes in underground chemical fires, remains at the scene.

Although the blaze was under control last week, a weekend flyover with infrared cameras detected at least 32 "hot spots" within the 122-acre landfill, Dollard said.

"It's not active burning, but just smoldering," he said. "Those areas have been pinpointed with GPS [global positioning satellite], and the contractors will dig them up and put them out."

The site's owner, Mark Gates, disappeared shortly after EPD closed his landfill in 1991 for environmental violations. Since then, EPD has been working to identify "responsible parties" with ties to the site.

Before the fire broke out, EPD was negotiating with 10 such parties to pay for an evaluation to stabilize and close the defunct landfill, which contains hundreds of tons of industrial and medical waste. …