Monroe County Fire Rescue responded at 3:17 a.m. Thursday to a fire inside the City of Key West’s transfer station at 125 Toppino Industrial Drive on Rockland Key. The fire was put out just after 5 a.m. with no injuries. Here’s what happened: Crews from Stock Island, Cudjoe Key and Big Coppitt Key arrived to find heavy smoke inside the building that made it impossible to enter immediately. After using fans to push some of the smoke out of the building, crews were able to go inside and assess that the fire was in the middle of a large household trash pile.
At the transfer station, waste is separated into household trash, recycling and yard waste. “It was an exothermic reaction that caused the fire,” said Monroe County’s Deputy Fire Marshall Craig Marston, who is investigating the incident. “Chemicals mixed with the regular trash.”
An automated sprinkler system operated to keep the fire from spreading, Marston said. Crews used a large front-end loader to separate the household trash that was not burning from the fire that was deep inside the large building. Then firefighters were able to extinguished the smoldering flames.
Officials from Waste Management were on scene to help limit the damage. At the time of the fire, there were six bulk haulers in line to haul out debris to the mainland and another eight route trucks in line to bring trash to the transfer station. The fire caused only a three-hour delay in the process. Marston said this fire is a good reminder to residents on why it is important to separate household chemicals from your regular trash.