Dump fire covers Mooi River in smog

2009-07-21 00:00

A FIRE broke out at the Mooi River municipal dump site on Friday and continued to burn and smoulder throughout the weekend, covering a wide area in thick smog and causing discomfort to locals in the vicinity.

Warren Loader, farm manager at Weston Agricultural College, said he and his family had to leave their home overnight as they could not sleep as a result of the dense smoke and fumes, and were suffering from sore throats, burning eyes and an “unbearable smell” emitted from the dump.

“I expect it will go on smouldering for weeks if last year’s experience is anything to go by. These fires are notoriously difficult to put out as they carry on burning metres under ground, and especially with our limited resources,” he said.

Loader said fire-fighters had been working round the clock and were doing the best they could under difficult conditions. “My heart goes out to them. They are absolutely exhausted.”

He said there was only one fire engine on site and whenever it had to refill its tank with water the fire flared up again.

Alpheus Xaba, acting station officer for Mooi River who is in charge of fighting the fire, said his men had succeeded in getting the blaze under control by mid-morning yesterday but it was still smouldering and they would continue to damp it down till late. “I expect we may finish up late this afternoon,” he said. “We’ve been here 24/7 since Friday.”

Loader said the dump site has limited security and said vagrants have access to it all the time.

“Last year a fire was started at the dump and the result was that one man died and over forty animals had to be put down. Hundreds of hectares of grazing was also lost.”

Mpofana municipal manager, Muzi Madlala,said the municipality will investigate the cause of the blaze which broke out at night when there is no guard on duty.

He said the site is currently in the process of being fenced. Madlala said due to budgetary constraints a security guard was only posted at the site during the day, but in light of this incident it may be necessary to consider posting a guard at night as well.

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