Why do landfills sometimes catch on fire?

How often do landfills catch on fire?

Each year in the United States, an average of 8,300 landfill fires occur. These fires are responsible for less than 10 civilian injuries and between $3 and $8 million in proper- ty loss each year.

What are 3 ways that fires can occur in a landfill?

Surface Landfill Fires

A surface fire can start if the facility accepts hot objects (for example, barbeque coals or other ashes) or overdraws the landfill gas collection system. Also arson, spontaneous combustion, or a discarded cigarette can start fires.

Are landfills flammable?

It is highly flammable and can form explosive mixtures with air if it concentrates in an enclosed space with poor ventilation. The range of air concentrations at which methane levels are considered to be an explosion hazard is 5 to 15% of the total air volume. Landfill gas explosions are not common occurrences.

How can we prevent fires in landfills?


Extinguish by smothering with soil • Use heavy equipment and a suppressant agent, and • Temporarily shut down the gas extraction system. No one method will work for all conditions. Each suppression plan will be unique due to site-specific conditions.

How methane can cause fire in landfills and peat swamps?

Methane is the main chemical in landfill gas and it is highly flammable. If a spark is present and enough methane is mixed into the air, a fire may occur. Breathing methane, however, is only hazardous if it is present at levels high enough to decrease the amount of oxygen in the air.

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Can garbage spontaneously combust?

How Spontaneous Combustion Occurs. As oil dries in a discarded rag, it produces heat. The air inside the folds of the rag combines with the fumes to form a combustible mixture. Under the right conditions, the rag will spontaneously ignite.

What are subterranean fires?

Subterranean fires are typically a result of the system adjustments by the operator of a landfill in order to stay in compliance. It is generally agreed that LFG collectors are a major cause of fires in landfills.

What are leachates in a landfill?

Leachate? “The liquid formed when rain water filters through wastes placed in a landfill. When this liquid comes in contact with buried wastes, it leaches, or draws out, chemicals or constituents from those wastes”.

How common are landfill fires?

Landfill fires occur frequently. In the USA there are around 8300 fires per year, and in the UK around 300. … Landfill fires occur frequently. In the USA there are around 8300 fires a year (US Fire Administration, 2001) and in the United Kingdom around 280 to 300 a year.