The old railroad ties that fueled a big fire on French Island today were meant to be burned, but not right now. Xcel Energy has used ground-up ties as fuel for the French Island incinerator for several years. Xcel spokeswoman Liz Wolf Green says the wood chips stored at Omaha Track make up 50 per cent of the typical fuel load for the refuse-to-energy plant. The other 50 per cent is garbage that would otherwise go to landfills. Green tells us that the Xcel plant could operate just on burning garbage, if their supply of wood chips was disrupted.