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Cache Officials On Alert After Fire at Clean-Up Site

CACHE Okla_ A hazardous dumpster fire in Cache has crews warning of the potential dangers during a city-wide clean up.

The fire broke out Tuesday afternoon at the city's drop-off site near the Cache City Park. Chief Dale Winham said when firefighters arrived the industrial-sized dumpster was completely engulfed. To make matters worse, there were potentially toxic chemicals and large appliances in the dumpster.

Fire investigators say several witnesses said they saw children playing near the dumpster not too long before the flames erupted. Now, Chief Winham said they're not sure that it was intentionally set, because it just as easily could have been caused by the numerous chemicals and potentially combustible appliances discarded at the dumpster. These are things that were not supposed to be dropped off there in the first place.

The discarded items tossed in this industrial-sized dumpster still hold the burning stench of flames and toxic smoke. The Cache Volunteer Fire Department's Chief Dale Winham said when firefighters arrived on the scene yesterday, flames were spewing several feet high.

"You literally have to tip this dumpster over and rake it out," Winham said. "Otherwise, there's just so much hidden voids that has fire in it."

Chief Winham said Tuesday, an 8-foot-high stack of tires was sitting right next to the dumpster which was completely engulfed in flames. He said firefighters had to move them quickly, because they burn so hot, water can not extinguish them once they're on fire. He said it would have taken special foam just to put it out. Not to mention, there were dangerous chemicals and combustible items tossed among the trash.

"This is unsupervised," Winham said. "We don't know whether somebody threw in an old propane tank or what. We're very suspicious and cautious about things that may explode on us. Certainly, we have very toxic smoke. We have natural things that are burning, like limbs and smoke. We have plastics, which are toxic. Even looking back right now, someone has thrown televisions in there."

Cache Resident Janet Ray said residents are lucky the drop off site is next to the fire station. She said the fire should serve as a lesson for residents to be more careful about what they throw in it.

"I think if we're going to have it, then people should pay attention to the rules and they should be sure the communication is good, so that people are aware," Ray said. "I don't think they intentionally jeopardized it, but it's a lesson to be learned."

Chief Winham said right now, the cause of the fire is being ruled as undetermined. He said there was no surveillance footage or any witnesses actually seeing someone light the fire. He said the Cache Police Department is going to monitor the activity at the drop-off site more closely.

The city-wide clean up runs until June 2nd. Chief Winham said you can not drop any large appliances, batteries, toxic chemicals or medical waste at the site. He said you can take your car batteries to Marlow's in downtown Cache or the NAPA store.

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