A machine used to sort recyclable items from garbage at Clover Flat Landfill south of Calistoga is out of service for at least a week after a fire caused damaged last weekend, according to the owner of the facility.
CalFire/Napa County Fire Battalion Chief Jason Martin said the cause of Saturday’s fire on the 4380 block of the Silverado Trail is undetermined. The fire, which was reported at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and contained three hours later, spewed heavy smoke into the air. Firefighters left the scene at 2:30 a.m. Sunday.
Trace amounts of sulfur inside discarded bags may have been the cause of the fire, according to firefighters. Vineyards use sulfur to prevent powdery mildew, a common disease. Sulfur, when compressed, generates its own heat and combustion, Martin explained.
Landfill owner Bob Pestoni, a former firefighter, said a similar fire occurred at this time last year, when sulfur is sprayed on vineyards. “I know how reactive it is,” he said.
However, Pestoni stressed that’s only a suspicion because the cause of the fire is unknown. The pile that burned Saturday night contained materials from Yountville’s annual cleanup and individuals who bring their loads to the landfill, he said.
Pestoni estimated the damages to the sorting machine at between $150,000 to $200,000. The company has ordered a new, 1,900-foot-long belt for the machine to replace the one that was damaged Saturday.
In the meantime, the landfill won’t be sorting items for at least another week and a half. Materials will go directly to the disposal site on the same 175-acre property, but the landfill still recycles materials that are pre-sorted.