Baltimore County firefighters may need two or three days to extinguish a smoldering fire in a 75-foot high "stump dump" that for years has been the object of community loathing in Granite, a wooded, western portion of the county near Patapsco State Park.
"The fire's contained, but it's not under control," Capt. Gordon Clifton, of the county fire department's communications division, said late yesterday afternoon, about 15 hours after the fire was reported in a huge mound of tree stumps at Patapsco Valley Farms in the 8700 block of Dogwood Road.
Captain Clifton said that at one point, 26 pieces of equipment were at the scene. Fire officials said they had to to pump water from nearby streams. Billowing columns of smoke could be seen for miles.
The fire could complicate the plans of Patapsco Valley Farms owner James F. Jett, who is applying for permission to operate a solid waste processing facility on his property.
As part of the permit process, the county fire department must report to the Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management on whether the dump is a fire hazard.
Captain Clifton said, "I can say this, it's a fire hazard, all right."
That is among the complaints Granite residents have long voiced.
Although Patapsco Valley Farms operates as a tree farm, Mr. Jett has also used his land as a dump for tree stumps and other debris.
Over the years, the dump has expanded. Yesterday, fire officials said it is 75 feet wide by 200 feet long.
Until recently, Mr. Jett didn't need a permit to operate the dump. But, as a result of recycling laws adopted by the county in 1989, Mr. Jett must get a permit, which would subject him to monitoring.
Mr. Jett could not be reached for comment. In the past, he has insisted that the dump does not represent an environmental or fire hazard.