A new blaze at the controversial tree-stump dump that has been burning and smoldering since February was extinguished early yesterday after a six-hour battle by Baltimore County firefighters.
Although there has been fire smoldering for the past six months vTC among the thousands of tree stumps dumped at James F. Jett's property in the 8700 block of Dogwood Road in western Baltimore County, officials said the latest fire erupted Saturday night in a wood chip pile.
"There were three fires in the mulch pile," said Baltimore County Deputy Fire Chief J. Edward Crooks. "It was pretty small, and we were able to put the fire out without much difficulty."
Nevertheless, flames lighted up the night sky over the dump, prompting numerous people to call firefighters and the police. Breezes carried the smoke as far as downtown Baltimore, and the city fire department reported receiving calls from people inquiring about the odor of smoke.
But some neighbors in the community of Granite, who have complained about the dump and fought its continued operation, appeared to have been spared from this fire's irritation.
"The smoke did not blow into my house last night because the wind was blowing from the northwest," said Robert Meekins, who lives across the street from Mr. Jett's property. "When I drove around to Wrights Mill Road, the smoke was unbearable."
The fire was located about two feet under the surface of a large pile of ground wood chips, according to Deputy Chief Crooks. He said the location was different from previous fires on the property that have generated large amounts of smoke and soot.
Since February, a number of blazes have flared up at other locations at the 35-acre site -- known as the Patapsco Valley Tree Farm -- which has been collecting tree stumps for the past 14 years.
The latest fire was reported about 9:30 p.m. Saturday, and extinguished about 3:30 a.m. Deputy Chief Crooks said the arson squad is investigating the cause, which remained undetermined last night.
Since the end of May, Mr. Jett had been operating under a court order that limits his operation to 40 truckloads of stumps a day or 350 truckloads a month.