UPDATE: Landfill fire prompts early dismissal at nearby schools

 (Photo/Elkhart County Sheriff's Dept.)
(Photo/Elkhart County Sheriff's Dept.) (WNDU)
Published: Apr. 26, 2017 at 6:10 AM EDT
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Students at Concord Community Schools and Elkhart Christian Academy are being dismissed early Thursday due to poor air quality caused by the nearby landfill fire.

Concord and Elkhart Community Schools have also canceled after school activities for Thursday. The district art fair has been postponed until Friday.

Concord Junior High School: 1 p.m.

Concord High School: 1:10 p.m.

Concord Intermediate School: 1:45 p.m.

K-4: 1:55 p.m.

No evening activities

Elkhart Christian Academy dismissed at 10 a.m.

Elkhart County Health Officer Dr. Daniel Nafziger and Chief Rochford from the Concord Fire Department held a news conference Thursday morning.

Update from Elkhart County Police as of 9:30 a.m. on Thursday:

"Day 2 of operations begins for emergency responders battling the fire that was spotted by an officer earlier yesterday morning at 3:42 a.m. at Waste Management’s Earthmover’s Landfill site located at 26488 CR 26. Throughout last night and early this morning, crews continued battling the blaze and are reporting that approximately 40% of the fire has been contained. Officials from Elkhart County’s Emergency Management, Concord Township Fire Department, Elkhart City Fire Department, Waste Management, IDEM, EPA, and many local and regional fire departments are continuing to utilize their resources to address the situation. Assistance is requested from motorists to avoid the area as CR 26 between CR 7 and CR 11 remain closed for emergency responders and equipment. Safety warnings for the public still remain in effect to shelter in place for areas affected by smoke that is being blown from the fire west of the site. "


Crews are continuing to tackle a landfill fire in Elkhart County that began early Wednesday morning.

“I was startled because you just don’t expect to see a fire in your back yard," one neighbor said. “I went to go for a run this morning and i said ‘you know, you might want to stay alert because the hill’s on fire back here!’”

The Elkhart County Sheriff's Dept. issued this release just before 10 a.m.:

"The cause of the fire, which has not been determined, is still burning and requiring additional resources to address the situation as well as concerns to the community. Though the landfill does not accept hazardous materials, it is recommended that residents shelter in place west and northwest of the fire as far as Bristol St. in Elkhart. There will be road closures for emergency responders on CR 26 between the intersections of CR 7 and CR 11."

The Concord Township Fire Department can't say exactly when the blaze started, but dispatchers got the call around 3:45 a.m. at the Earthmovers Landfill, owned by Waste Management, off of C.R. 26 just south of the bypass.

Meantime, new photos were released by the department. Scroll down to see the slideshow.

Firefighters say they're standing by while company employees use machines to cover the blaze with dirt and smother the fire. There's no word on how long it will take, but the fire is said to be contained.

“I have not received any reports of any injuries from the site itself or reports that people went to the hospital because of the smoke,” Elkhart Sheriff's Department Captain James Bradberry said.

In the meantime, nearby residents are urged to keep their windows closed to avoid the toxins from the smoke.

“I wish i could do things like hang the clothes on the line and have the windows open, but it’s not practical," one neighbor said. "It’s a minor inconvenience. it’s one day. it’s kind of a first-world problem. We’ll be all right.”

Unfortunately it isn't just a one day problem. As of 5:00 P.M. Wednesday, crews said they will be working on a 12 hour plan for the fire and will be monitoring it all day on Thursday.

The Elkhart County Correctional facility, which is located on County Road 26, will be closing the main lobby to the public for the remainder of Wednesday.

Police say the smoke has not affected the housing units of the facility, but they're going to continue to access the situation for health risks to inmates and staff.

The cause of the fire is still unknown.

Our reporter on the scene says the fire could be seen from a long distance away, and nearby residents said they could smell it.

According to officials, no homes are in danger from the fire as it is contained to just the landfill.