AGAWAM, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- We continue to follow the latest on the fire at Bondi’s Island in Agawam, which Western Mass News has been following for more than 24 hours now.
The compost pile fire has now been reduced to smoldering hotspots.
Friday afternoon, officials told us that the rain today has significantly helped their efforts to clear surface level flames and flare ups.
However, combing through the piles of yard waste – logs, leaves, and branches - continues to be a time-consuming effort.
The Western Mass News SkyDrone captured video of ongoing extinguishing efforts this afternoon.
Fire officials said hotspots can travel down deep into the compost pile and smolder away. You can see different emergency vehicles linked together to spray water on the smoking pile.
Firefighters’ main objective is to pull this whole pile of compost apart with machines to make sure all hot spots are put out.
Officials with Covanta, the company that operates the land on behalf of Springfield, released a statement, saying the landfill area was not affected, just the yard waste and brush compost.
The fire broke out around 12:45 p.m. Thursday and air quality concerns prompted hazmat teams to monitor the smoke.
Residents in Springfield, West Springfield, and Agawam are still advised to keep windows closed as they continue to work tomorrow.
“We’re continuing operations tonight until about 6 p.m. At that point, we’re going to downsize our operations significantly, take a lot of those people out of the field, but leave a safety crew up there to prevent any kind of unsafe conditions from developing overnight and then 6 o’clock in the morning, we’ll be right back at it,” said Agawam Fire Chief Alan Sirois.
When asked how long people can expect to keep their windows closed, fire officials said it could be three to five days.
"The machinery is doing a great job with it. It’s just slow going. There’s a lot of material up there to pull apart," Sirois noted.
There is good news for homeowners, though the air was full of smoke, the state's hazmat officials didn’t discover anything overtly dangerous burning in the compost.
"They did not find any acute hazardous materials in the smoke," Sirois added.
Western Mass News spoke with the head of Springfield’s Department of Public Works, Chris Cignoli.
While fire officials said the cause is still under investigation, Cignoli said Thursday’s high winds and the process of composting created the perfect storm for a fire to spread.
"Composting, it’s an organic process, it creates its heat, and the material becomes extremely combustible," Cignoli explained.
Covanta, who's running trash and yard waste operations on behalf of Springfield, said the fire did not affect the trash landfill operations. Their spokesperson said they plan to investigate the cause of the fire. But for some, Covanta’s statement came too late.
“We had no public statements whatsoever from Covanta until late this morning, on Friday. It’s almost a full day since it started," said Springfield City Councilor Michael Fenton.
Fenton is calling for an investigation into the fire and accuses Covanta of failing to address the smoke and air quality concerns in their statement.
"I’d like a thorough investigation of exactly what happened, how a fire of this size and scale could have erupted at this site, and what measures and steps will be taken to make sure that it never happens again," he said.
Officials also said they will give the public a definitive all clear on when it’s safe to do so. There will be another operational update tomorrow morning.