Baltimore County spends $108,000 on stump fire


Efforts to contain the burning stump dump near Granite have so far cost Baltimore County $108,000, and the fire shows no sign of burning out soon, Fire Chief Elwood Banister said yesterday.

Chief Banister told the County Council that the price tag includes $23,000 for a Missouri firefighter to apply a special foam over a 10-day period, as well as rent paid for the half-dozen bulldozers and other heavy vehicles leased to separate burning mounds of rubble in the first two weeks of the fire. The heavy equipment is no longer being used, he said. He said the figure does not include costs incurred to repair two pumpers that broke down at the site, where a five-acre mountain of stumps has been burning since Feb. 2.

"I have been in the fire service 37 years, and I have never experienced anything like it," Chief Banister said.

Contractors solicited for proposals to use heavy equipment to help put out the fire offered estimates ranging from $1.8 million for three months work to $5 million for six months work, he said.

The chief said the department is continuing to explore other options.

But it has ruled out a few, including a suggestion from one caller that firefighters dump baking soda on the five acres of stumps.

In related developments, Delegate Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Baltimore County, proposed legislation that would require stump dump owner James F. Jett to obtain a permit from the state Department of the Environment to continue operating as a recycling facility. The bill is scheduled for a hearing March 6.

Councilwoman Berchie Lee Manley, R-1st, also has asked the county Office of the People's Counsel to see if a hearing may be held before the zoning commissioner to examine whether the stump dump is an appropriate land use in the rural neighborhood where it is located.

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