Collective effort to put out dump fire

2013-09-19 00:00

A FIRE has been burning in the Mpofana Municipal dump in Mooi river since Monday night.

Strategic thinking was required to put out the fire to ensure the river was not polluted.

The fire, which is isolated to an area in the dump, runs deep into the ground and the windy weather has helped keep the fire alive while blowing smoke to surrounding areas.

Chris Nowlan, a teacher at Weston Agricultural College, said the smoke gets very bad in the mornings. “At times you can’t see your hand in front of your face. My wife, who runs a nursery school near [the dump site], had to close her school [on Tuesday] because parents could not reach her through the smoke.”

Weston Agricultural College has also been affected by the smoke. Principal Paul Tait joined municipal manger Max Moyo and head of emergency services in uMgungundlovu fire Xolani Muthwa at the site yesterday to help solve the issue of putting the fire out.

“On Tuesday night when the wind dropped, the valley filled up with smoke. We’re battling at the school, we couldn’t sleep.

“We can’t just flood the area to put out the fire as the water will drain into the river, polluting it. We will be badly affected as we are the first farm downstream. We get our drinking water from the river, our cattle drink water from there and we use it for our irrigation systems. We had to come and make sure that something is being done,” said Tait.

Moyo said they are doing everything they can to control the fire without polluting the the river, which is metres away.

Muthwa told The Witness they are making sure that they extinguish the fire. They pumped water from a nearby dam to put out the fire out on the top to prevent it from spreading and used a tractor loader backhoe (TLB) to dig up the rubbish and put out the fire in the bottom.

Nomalungelo Ngubane, a resident of Bruntville township, was at the dump collecting rubbish. She told The Witness that the smoke started on Monday.

Musa Chamane from the environmental organisation groundWork said: “It’s a concern that landfill sites are not yet managed properly. That is why they catch on fire so easily. If they were covered with soil daily this would have not happened. This is polluting the air quality and the water, which also contributes to climate change.”

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