ELKHART COUNTY — On Thursday morning fire crews continued to monitor the flames at an Elkhart County landfill. It's been more than 24 hours since the blaze started, and while county police told us Thursday morning that the flames are about 40 percent contained, firefighters want to make sure they don't flare back up to full strength.
Local schools have closed due to the amount of smoke in the area:
Elkhart Christian Schools - CLOSED
Concord High School - Closing at 1:10
Concord Intermediate School- Closing at 1:45
Concord Elementary School- Closing at 1:55
It started shortly after 3:30 Wednesday morning at a site just south of the Elkhart County Jail. This is the Waste Management’s Earth Mover’s Landfill in the 26000 block of County Road 26 near the Bypass.
A representative from the Elkhart County Landfill says they have been taking trash that normally goes to Waste Management. They say there have been no disruption of services.
Smoke is still in the air Thursday and it's pretty potent. You can smell it miles away. On Thursday morning police said the order remains for residents affected by the smoke to shelter in place.
County Road 26 between County Road 7 and County Road 11 remains closed.
Fire crews stayed there overnight, but have kept a safe distance. They say it was too dark and unsafe – especially in areas where there was still smoke.
At this point, experts say are no toxic threats from all of the smoke, but say it could irritate those with asthma or breathing problems.
Planes dropped 800 gallons of water at a time on the fire throughout the afternoon.
More than 34 units from various agencies spent all day spraying water on the fire and moving dirt over the extinguished areas.
Fire officials say strong winds made it difficult.
"We've had to reposition our apparatus, our equipment, our personnel, and therefore with this the fires would pick back up again because we cannot work in those particular areas,” said Chief Rochford.
Health officials say air tests show no hazards or toxins in the smoke. The EPA will keep monitoring air quality but neighbors with health concerns should still be careful.
"Obviously when there is this much smoke, it can be an irritant, particularly for small children, children with asthma, or older folks that have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or emphysema. Smoke can be an irritant and cause respiratory difficulties." said Elkhart County Health Officer, Dr. Daniel Nafziger.
Crews will continue to dump water on the flames Thursday. They were expected to start work once the sun rose.
"That is a very dangerous area with trucks that are moving around and narrow passage ways that they're able to work with. They know what it's like during the daytime, but at nighttime, it is completely different,” said Chief Rochford.
The Red Cross was on scene earlier in the day Wednesday giving food and drinks to crews on scene.
Hotels nearby say there were quite a few people checking in to get out of the smoke.
Elkhart County's Emergency Management, Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), the EPA, and other organizations were all on scene.
Officials have not yet said how this fire started.