Calmer winds on Tuesday gave emergency crews a little extra time to work on a plan to snuff out a stubborn fire at a city of Austin composting facility. Smoke continued to rise out of the Hornsby Bend Bio Solids plant were on Monday about three quarters of the giant piles of compost on the 15 acre site caught fire. As they smoldered, fire crews collected air samples in and around the site.
"We got a little bit, a little bit on the hydro-carbons, but that thing fluctuates," said an Austin Firefighter as he checked the air quality.
With nothing toxic detected, Austin Water spokesperson Jason Hill, compared the smoke cloud to what a large camp fire can produce. But there was a downside; this camp fire may be cooking for a while.
"The compost piles are still smoldering they will be for a while. It could be days; absolutely these compost piles are large so they could be burning for days," said Hill.
Overnight, the mulch piles looked volcanic not the organic. The burning compost is a mix of brush and solids removed from the waste water treatment process. Some of it is sold as dill dirt which can be used in flower beds.
Across the street residents of the Hornsby Glen subdivision, like Sydney Gorton, made it through the night with windows and doors tightly shut.
"Didn't really bother me. Not that bad," said Gorton who added the blue sky from her front porch looked "gorgeous."
For the people who live in the subdivision it's not the first time to see smoke come out of the facility before. There was a fire just a few weeks ago.
"It didn't hit us near as bad as it did on Christmas Day; however it was definitely more smoky yesterday because the fires were bigger so it wasn't near as bad as yesterday, it was scarier because it was bigger if it was to ever jump across that 973 though we've only got one way out," said Renee Hobgood.
The Christmas Day fire burned for about a week. With the possibility of stronger winds in the forecast the focus will remain on containment. If the weather cooperates sometime Wednesday fire fighters will start breaking up the piles of burning compost.