What’s that smoky haze in North Raleigh? NC to look into fire at landfill in Wake County

Questions linger about what caused a fire to break out Friday at in Wake County landfill off Interstate 540 that is causing smoke to linger in the air days later.

On Tuesday, smoke could still be seen hanging around the treetops at Wall Recycling Raleigh at 3000 Gresham Lake Road and was visible from the interstate near Capital Boulevard.

The fire was started unintentionally, according to Raleigh officials, and should be out within the next two days.

Since Friday, the fire has been contained and the company is excavating in the area in hopes of putting out the fire, said Julia Milstead, a city spokesperson.

Mulch and tree stumps are being burned at the site, she said.

The Raleigh Fire Department first responded to the fire at 3:25 a.m. on Nov. 25, according to a report that called the incident a “mulch fire” and classified it as an “act of nature.”

The report says the manager of the company was notified of the fire and told crews he would move the mulch around and out of the fire.

A second report that same morning about 8:20 a.m., classified the fire as “unintentional” and that several fires had occurred at the company several times over the last year.

Wall Recycling did not comment on the fire at the site. Raleigh fire officials did not respond to The News & Observer for comment.

Smoke is seen in the air above Wall Recycling Raleigh on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, in Raleigh, N.C.
Smoke is seen in the air above Wall Recycling Raleigh on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, in Raleigh, N.C.

Air pollution concerns

The state’s Division of Air Quality said businesses cannot burn waster or debris outdoors without controls as a means of disposal, according to Shawn Taylor, a spokesperson for the department.

He said the division requires facilities “that operate sources of air pollution subject to regulations to apply for and obtain an air quality permit.” They also must obtain a general air quality permit for the operation of an air curtain incinerator, which uses air to limit the emissions of smoke and other pollutants typically associated with open burning.

Wall Recycling has a permit to operate an air curtain incinerator however, the fire was not associated with the incinerator, Taylor said.

“The Division of Waste Management and the Division of Air Quality are working together to investigate and take appropriate action,” he said.

Some onlookers took to social media to document the fire, saying they could see haze, ash and debris falling and smell smoke.

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“Populations sensitive to smoke, including children and older adults, may consider limiting their time outside if they can see or smell smoke,” Taylor said.

Smoke billows above the treetops near Gresham Lake Road and Interstate 540 as a fire burns at Wall Recycling Raleigh on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, in Raleigh, N.C.
Smoke billows above the treetops near Gresham Lake Road and Interstate 540 as a fire burns at Wall Recycling Raleigh on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, in Raleigh, N.C.