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Iqaluit's smouldering "dumpcano" will finally be put out

Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Monday, August 11, 2014, 1:24 PM -

The music in the video above might seem a little too epic for a garbage dump fire, until it hits you: That fire, in Iqaluit, Nunavut, has been burning for months.

Dubbed the "dumpcano," even though city council finally bit the bullet on the $2.2-million cost to put it out, approved last week, it'll still take three weeks to finally extinguish the blaze.

At first, Iqaluit intended to simply let the fire keep burning, back in May when the flames had already been burning for months, according to the CBC. Now, the plan is to extinguish the blaze, requiring 14 firefighters to work 12 hours a day soaking the pile.

That's less ambitious than the original scheme, which required workers to soak the garbage clump by large clump in a pool. It would have taken two months and cost more than $4 million.

Aside from its effect on air quality, the fire has played havoc with garbage collection in the city. Garbage pickup was reduced to one day a week, and residents were asked to conserve water and separate household waste from cardboard.

And because this is the 21st Century, it even has its own Twitter account.

As for how it got started in the first place, Weather Network meteorologist Scott Sutherland says the Iqaluit dump fire is apparently a case of spontaneous combustion. 

"It may have been due to decaying batteries short circuiting, sparking a flame, thus igniting a trapped pocket of methane and oxygen," he says. "Or, it may have been due to a process called ‘thermal runaway’ – where heat from decaying organic matter can build up, causing temperatures to rise into the hundreds of degrees Celsius over time. If the temperature reaches at least 580oC, methane produced by the rotting matter can ‘autoignite’ (no spark or flame required)."

SHARK ATTACK! The beastie in the video gets a little too close for comfort.

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