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Fire at plant building mostly trash

ALBANY -- Although it burned for about five hours, a fire Thursday left a Veolia Environmental Services trash-transfer building structurally intact, a company official said.

There were no injuries reported from the fire at the 1515 Pecan Lane address.

"It looked a lot worse than it really was," said Darlene McLaughlin, company general manager. "The beams and roof are structurally good. The walls might need sandblasting and paint. We are open and working and picking up on schedule."

A trash transfer building is an open space covered by a roof supported by walls covered in light metal where trucks dump their loads before the trash gets taken to a landfill, said Albany Fire Department Chief James Carswell.

While firefighters contained the blaze within the two-story building, the fire presented a unique problem, Carswell said.

"The fire was in an empty space in what is really a warehouse. The trash was piled about 14 feet high in some places," Carswell said. "To get the fire out we had to have some of their employees use front loaders to take the trash and spread it out so we could put water on it."

The actions of the fire department and its employees brought high praise from McLaughlin.

"The Albany Fire Department was great. They are one of the best I have ever seen," McLaughlin said. "I'm also very proud of our employees."

The fire started when a truck delivering trash dumped some smoldering material at the center, Carswell said. Once the smoldering material hit the air it started burning, he added.

Firefighters returned Friday to hit any hot spot problem areas that may have cropped up.

It is a problem that crops up, McLaughlin said. Sometimes the fire flares up in a truck when one is on the road.

"At least it didn't happen on the road," McLaughlin said. "Sometimes people throw the ashes from fireplaces in the trash."