On 2/09/07, I sent an e-mail to TCEQ concerning this fire and I am sending this one also.
I have yet to recieve a response.
I am a 61 year old Steam Engineer
I have sucsessful experience in helping to put out two similar fires.
I feel that I may need to explain what I think, with what information I have, what I have observed so far and with my past experience.
I understand that the consensus is that someone started this fire.
It seems to me that this fire just happened to start about the same time that we had the beginnings of one of the coldest winters in years. The mulch pile is a natural habitat for ground squirrels or rock squirrels and other burrowing animals.
These animals have built in heat sensors so to speak and they haven't experienced this extreme cold in their short lives, so their burrows weren't that deep, and instinct tells them to dig deeper to a warmer depth so they dig deeper.
I know that if this mulch pile was just pure mulch or saw dust someone would have suspected spontaneous combustion.
However being that it is 75% rock, soil and construction material you wouldn't give that much thought.
But in reality it just compounds the problem, instead of having one digestive hot bed you have several with some open space between large rocks and stumps that trap gas. You now have two of the three elements for combustion.
Enter the poor squirrel that just happens to dig into one of these spaces..... Number Three!!! crispy critter..Seems that someone started that fire, because it spread to several places in the area. Gee I wonder why the fire department couldn't put it out when they first discovered it?
Back to the poor squirrels they are colonists by nature and they live in one large burrow together with several tunnels to the surface........Hello!
You are fighting a fire that's not going out in a couple of days by digging the top off. What happens when you break through a "Hot Pocket" that hasn't been exposed yet?
You had better get some core temps and have a good thermal scan or image to make sure you are right and I am wrong. Which I just may be, because I don't know all of your findings. I can only go by what I have experienced.
Getting back to the fire, water, runoff and ground water contamination.
I know how to put the surface fires out and reach those areas which are feeding the surface using 12,500 gph
or less with little or no runoff and drastically reducing the chance of contamination. That's only 100,000 gallons in 8 hours.