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City extends health alert issued due to South Valley compost fire

A Bernalillo County fire truck sprays water on a compost fire near Broadway and Interstate 25 Thursday morning. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis / Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The City of Albuquerque is extending a health alert due to smoke from a “giant” fire that broke out at a South Valley compost processing plant early Thursday morning.

The alert, initially set to expire in the afternoon, was extended into Friday until at least noon.

“The compost fire in the South Valley may continue to emit smoke through the night,” the city’s Air Quality Program said. “Light southerly winds are expected through the night pushing smoke northward across the Albuquerque metro area. Those with respiratory conditions in the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County should limit outdoor activity.

Bernalillo County Fire Department commander Tony Pittarelli said firefighters were called to the composting plant near Broadway and Interstate 25 around 1 a.m.

“We responded out here and it was about an acre involved,” Pittarelli said. “About 20 foot flame lengths, and we immediately started drafting operations and attacking the fire.”

Pittarelli didn’t say what they believe started the fire.

He said Sandoval County and Kirtland Air Force Base lent additional resources to fight the fire and the Bernalillo County Public Works assisted with carrying water.

“Unfortunately, it’s like a giant bonfire with the amount of heat that it’s producing,” Pittarelli said. “It’s hard for us to overcome it with water because we don’t have a hydrant out here and we have to haul the water in to fight the fire.”

He said he expected crews to be working on the blaze throughout the day.


Journal staff writer Nancy Tipton and staff photographer Adolphe Pierre-Louis contributed to this report.

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