LAFAYETTE — The city-parish government’s compost facility has been temporarily closed after a $500,000 machine used to grind wood debris was destroyed by fire Tuesday.

The Dugas Road facility processes yard waste and also offers free compost to Lafayette gardeners.

Lafayette’s garbage contractor, Allied Waste, will continue weekly curbside collection of residents’ yard waste, but the waste will be brought to an alternative disposal site, said city-parish Environmental Quality Manager Mark Pope.

Residents and contractors who normally bring tree limbs and other yard debris to the compost facility will need to find another option until the grinder is replaced.

“We can’t just let that stuff accumulate on the ground,” Pope said.

He said large piles of decomposing limbs and leaves generate so much heat that spontaneous combustion could be an issue.

“The last thing we need is another fire,” he said.

Pope said investigators have not determined the cause of Tuesday’s fire, but, he said, it is likely the grinder, a massive machine that pulverizes wood debris, will need to be replaced.

“That thing is toasted,” he said.

Lafayette’s compost facility processes about 15,000 tons of yard waste a year, Pope said.

“It’s a pretty popular program,” he said.

Residents can generally drive out to the facility for free compost, but none has been available this summer.

“Due to drought conditions, the decomposition had gone dormant,” Pope said.

He said there is no timeline as to when the composting facility might reopen.