By JOSHUA PHILLIPS
July 24, 2013
A large pile of recycled roofing shingles and disposed waste was smoldering Tuesday, July 16, in the Sheffield Industrial District.
The “mountain” located behind the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post #9997 had been smoldering since Friday, July 12, due to the summer heat. Kansas City Fire Department (KCFD) was on the scene Tuesday to put out the fire. A haze coming from the smoking pile drifted out to the VFW Post and into the surrounding neighborhoods.
Mark Griswold of VFW Post #9997 said there are heroes (veterans) in the Northeast who have breathing problems, and those problems aren’t being helped by the smoke from the smoldering pile. Griswold described the smell as a combination of burning tires with asphalt and roofing shingles.
“There are families with kids here who are breathing this smoke in,” Griswold said. “It was a neat concept (that) we were told by (Ron) Yoder, and that concept is great if it is done properly.”
The area where the pile stands today was the former Go Green Recycling facility, 6815 Wilson Rd., where people were charged a fee to drop off roofing shingles for Go Green to recycle and turn a profit. The former “eco-friendly” business opened June 4, 2010; however, business owner Yoder left the business, but the waste remains on the property.
“In every large urban city you are going to have these kind of smoldering piles,” said Floyd Peoples, KCFD fire marshal. “With any smoldering debris pile it depends on what is in the pile and how dangerous those materials can be; the first hazard is with the fire and the second hazard deals with what toxins are released from the fire.”
A KCFD representative at the scene said the bottom of the pile was essentially ignited on fire due to the summer heat and the flammable materials in the pile, such as roofing shingles and other trash left behind.
Peoples said cleaning up the debris pile is the responsibility of the landowner. When the neighbors complained, the city of Kansas City, Mo. Neighborhood Preservation Division stepped in to contract with Industrial Wrecking Co., Inc. for a machine to move debris out of the way for the KCFD batallion to spray water into the pile.
“The former tenant (Yoder) left us with this pile of trash,” said Spencer Gregg, owner of the property where the pile still sits today. “I was told by a tenant about the fire. I said to get it under control before it becomes a larger problem.”
Neighborhood Preservation Division Manager Nathan Paré said his division was contacted directly by KCFD to assist KCFD with the smoldering pile. Paré’s division created a contract with Industrial Wrecking to use a machine to lift debris from the pile, so the KCFD batallion could stop the smoldering pile.
“In this case there is the potential for the pile to start shifting, making it difficult for the (Industrial Wrecking) crew to assist KCFD,” Paré said.
Although Griswold said no one wants to enjoy sitting outside the VFW because of the smoke rising from the smoldering pile, the company who has cleaned up the area has been respectful about not working while the VFW hosts events.
“This pile has been an eyesore for three to four years now,” said J.C. Carter, Northeast resident and veteran. “I am tired of Northeast looking like a pig sty.”
Gregg, who has owned the property for 25 years, said he hopes to work more with C.S. Carey, Inc. to properly remove the debris within three months.