Stubborn Mulch Fire Finally Snuffed Out

Tuesday, March 27th 2007, 9:26 pm
By: News On 6

HELOTES, Texas (AP) _ An enormous mulch fire that had been burning since late December, layering this hill town in smoke and raising concerns about drinking water safety, has been extinguished, state officials said Tuesday.

The smoldering pile of twigs and logs owned by H.L. Zumwalt Construction Inc. was difficult to extinguish, in part, because it sits on the edge of the an aquifer that supplies water to San Antonio and the region.

Environmental officials feared that chemicals or ash might affect the water supply after five private wells close to the site were contaminated.

None of the public wells was affected, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said air quality has returned to good or moderate.

After weeks of confusion over whose responsibility it was to put out the fire, which was burning on private land, the commission hired a contractor.

Oil Mop LLC put out the blaze at an estimated cost of $5.5 million, which will be paid out of state funds.