Sawdust Sets Fire at Biomass

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WHITE CITY, Ore.  — Over the weekend, smoke filled the sky in White City when a pile of sawdust at the Biomass One plant caught on fire, requiring outside assistance.

Jackson County Fire District 3 responded to the call around 7:30 p.m. on Saturday evening and didn’t leave the scene until around 10:30 p.m. Fire officials said there was damage to an attic in a nearby building on the site. Fire District 3 explained that they work closely with Biomass One regularly, and even have a radio to communicate with workers there.

“We’ll immediately get on the radio and confirm whether they have a fire situation or not. Most of the time, they handle the fires themselves. They push saw dust over the top of a small fire and it’s out, and we don’t even have to respond,” explained Arlen Blenkush, the Battalion Chief of Fire District 3.

The Fire District 3 Battalion Chief also explained that the pile is constantly smoldering because of the heat of the material decomposing. Occasionally, the heat will reach the outside of the pile and mix with oxygen, causing a combustion.