Several authorities were working to contain a fire that appeared to have broken out at the Clearwater Compost facility in Lewiston late Saturday afternoon.

Shortly before 6 p.m. the piles of the facility were completely on fire, creating thick clouds of black smoke. According to the National Weather Service in Spokane, the wind was brisk at the time, with gusts of up to 25-30 miles per hour.

Flames soon appeared on the steep grass slope south and east of the composting facility and eventually covered several hectares.

David Chenault, chief of the Lewiston Fire Department Battalion, said the fire outside the Clearwater Compost facility was contained around 9 p.m., but the firefighters continued to work on the dumps in the yard and would stay all night.

“We are currently trying to get a better grip on this fire on the premises,” he said. “Once we have this under control, I don’t have to worry about branding.

Around the same time, another fire broke out in the city. Four engines from the Lewiston fire department reacted to a fire in the Canyon View apartment complex in Lewiston on Friday around 6 p.m.

The threat was quickly removed and restricted to a single unit of the complex, which includes several buildings on the 2400 block of 17th Street. Other residents of the building where the fire broke out were able to return to their homes. There was no further information on Saturday.

The Idaho Department of Lands took the lead in fighting the fire outside the composting facility, which is on the eastern edge of the Lewiston city limits.

Authorities including Asotin County Fire District No. 1. Wheatland Fire District, Clearwater Paper, Nez Perce County and the City of Clarkston supported the repression. A helicopter also threw water into the fire.

There was a small fire in one of the Clearwater compost heaps around 5:00 am on Saturday. Chenault said it was too early to determine if the afternoon fire was caused by the resurrected morning fire or if it was a new fire. Composting plants can be prone to fire because of the heat generated by the decomposition of vegetation.