Landfill fire continues to smolder near Northfield; air quality monitoring underway

Rice County officials are continuing to monitor a landfill fire that has been smoldering since Monday.

The fire was first reported Monday night at the Rice County landfill about five miles southwest of Northfield, just east of State Highway 3. It isn’t yet clear what started the fire.

Firefighting crews initially took steps to keep the fire from spreading. Authorities have since been monitoring the fire as it’s continued to send up a plume of smoke.

In an update Wednesday morning, county officials said they’re getting air quality monitoring equipment to assess conditions at the landfill and in the surrounding area, looking for any off-site effects of the fire. An engineering and environmental consulting firm also is assessing the situation.

The fire broke out as air quality across much of Minnesota, including Rice County, already had been impaired for days by smoke from Canadian wildfires.

In Wednesday’s update, the county said it’s “still difficult to predict exactly when we will have totally quelled the smoldering debris.”

The landfill is closed to the public but remains open to licensed trash haulers.

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