County must replace landfill's fire-damaged loader

Blaze also destroyed maintenance shed

dump operations to continue

July 20, 2004|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The county will have to purchase a front-end loader as soon as possible and rent one until the new machine is delivered so that operations can continue at Carroll's only landfill.

A fire at the Northern Landfill on Route 140 in Westminster on Friday destroyed the county's machine, which cost about $154,000 several years ago, as well as the maintenance building and all its contents. Insurance adjusters were at the landfill yesterday assessing the damage and were expected to continue the investigation today.

"I expect it will be a few days before we know exactly what this loss will cost us," said Bob Williams, risk manager for the county. "I think we are looking at about $200,000."

The state fire marshal's office put the damage at $100,000 for the 3,000-square-foot pole building and $350,000 for its contents and equipment.

Crews use the large loader, which has a three-yard bucket, during daily operations. They were doing routine work on the loader near the maintenance building Friday afternoon, when a spark ignited the oil in the machine's hydraulic cylinder. Fire quickly consumed the loader and spread to the building, which housed spare parts, tires and lubricants. Two workers escaped the building unharmed.

It took 50 volunteer firefighters from six area companies an hour to bring the fire under control, said Allen Gosnell, deputy chief state fire marshal.

"The maintenance building and everything we had stored there, all of it was destroyed," said Franklin G. Schaeffer, the county's deputy director of public works. He said landfill operations will continue.

While the landfill has remained open, the work is going on with borrowed equipment, Schaeffer said. Another county agency has lent the landfill a loader to use until a rental machine can be located. Schaeffer said he is uncertain what the rental will cost and what the cost of new machinery will be.

"This was our main piece of equipment," he said. "We run it all day every day. We have to rent another one until we can replace it."

The county also will replace the maintenance building as soon as possible, Schaeffer said. Most landfill equipment remains outside, but tools and maintenance items will be housed elsewhere until the shed is rebuilt, he said.

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