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Business owners complaining about trash fire in Johnston

August 17, 2021 GMT

JOHNSTON, Iowa (AP) — Some businesses in the Des Moines suburb of Johnston are complaining about smoke and ash billowing from a trash pile in the city that’s been burning for more than 10 days.

The fire has been burning a massive pile of construction materials, mulch and trees in front of Tyler Excavating since Aug. 6, television station KCCI reported.

“It smells like smoke, our cars are covered with ash,” said Jeff Stephens, owner of Stephen’s Auto Sales just a few doors down from the fire. “I deal with asthma and I have to carry my inhaler with me even more so now.”

Ash has been coating on the lot’s cars every day, requiring his employees to detail the cars repeatedly and costing him time and money, he said.

The Johnston-Grimes Metropolitan Fire Department is equally unhappy with the fire. It’s been called out about a dozen times to extinguish fires that continue to erupt in the pile, and crews have used more 500,000 gallons of water on the fire, Fire Chief Jim Clark said.

“That pile can heat up on its own because it’s decaying organic matter,” Clark said.

The city has issued notice to Tyler Excavating that the pile must be removed, and officials said the business has been cooperating.