11/19/2013 09:36 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST

Toxic materials burning in landfill near Medicine Hat

A stubborn fire at a private landfill a few kilometres east of Medicine Hat continues to burn, with Alberta Health officials on the way to measure air quality.

"We exhausted quite a few different methods of trying to extinguish this fire, all of which had no impact on downsizing the size of this fire," said Dennis Mann, emergency services chief for Cypress County.

"A fairly large black plume of smoke is emanating from the pit, It can be seen from several miles …There are certainly lots of toxic materials that are burning right now."

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Mann is trying to get provincial assistance, hoping for help from experts trained in fighting landfill fires.

Firefighters from three departments already trucked in water and battled strong winds to douse the burning wood, insulation, shingles and other materials that are buried in a very deep hole in rural Cypress County.

"It's about ten years of construction materials," he said. "A real hodge-podge of products that we are dealing with here. We threw several thousand gallons of water and foam and dry chemical on this fire to no avail."

He is not sure how the fire started, but doesn't think it can spread. Mann is urging people to stay away from the area.

Range Road 45 and Township Road 130 west of Highway 41 are closed because heavy smoke is obscuring visibility.

Alberta Environment officials are heading to the area to monitor the air quality.