Redmond plant's wood chip fire could burn for days

REDMOND -- Firefighters say it's like looking for a needle in a haystack -- a smoldering fire deep inside a four-story-high pile of wood chips at All Wood Recycling in Redmond.

(Photo courtesy of Redmond Police Dept.)

"We've got several teams from Bellevue, Kirkland, and Redmond that are primary.  Seattle came out here with a strike team, which are personnel instead of their equipment. Redmond Police Department officer Julie Beard said.

The first 911 calls came in at 11 a.m. Wednesday; smoke that could be seen for miles.

Fires like this one are not uncommon, with spontaneous combustion the likely cause. Hot weather, combined with recent rains, causes decomposition deep in the pile that generates heat and that leads to fire.

There is a two-pronged attack to get the fire under control. Company employees are working with Redmond firefighters.  The employees are using backhoes to pull the pile apart while firefighters douse the fire from above with water.

"The company employees are going to be the stars today. They got us here quickly. They've been here since 10:30  this morning, nonstop working in that equipment trying to help us out,” Beard said.

Lori Martin lives a quarter mile away.

She and her family have been dealing with the smoke all day.

"The wind was switching back and forth and as long as the wind was blowing that way it wasn't so bad.  For a while the wind was blowing toward our house. We had to shut all the windows and turn the fans on,” Martin said.

Right now the fire is contained and firefighters don't expect that to change.

The question is how long it will take to put the fire out.

"At least 24 hours, possibly days,” Beard said.