Bloemfontein 'chokes' under smoky fire

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Smoke is seen at the site of the dumpsite fire in Bloemfontein. (Netwerk24)
Smoke is seen at the site of the dumpsite fire in Bloemfontein. (Netwerk24)

Bloemfontein - A thick pall of smoke from the northern dumping grounds in Bloemfontein is causing respiratory problems for people and animals.

Selmé Pretorius, the Democratic Alliance councillor in whose ward the dumping grounds fall, said the fire broke out on Sunday evening July 30. By 12:00 on Monday morning it was still burning, Netwerk24 reported.

"The Bloemfontein fire brigade can't go in there, because the fire engines' tyres melt. The fire also can't be doused from the air, because it causes methane gas."

She said the only way in which to extinguish the fire, was "[to use an excavator] to bury the refuse and flames at the same time".

Qondile Khedama, the Mangaung Metro's communications manager, said the rubbish which rots when it is covered, causes the methane gas. This, in turn, results in the soil getting very hot and the tyres on the fire engines melting.

Pretorius said the vehicles used to compact rubbish needed to be used. The metro has two - but they are without diesel.

"The metro hasn't got diesel available in Bloemfontein. Diesel has had to be fetched from Thaba Nchu so that the heavy compacting machines can be used.

She said a previous and similar fire had taken 10 days to extinguish.

Khedama said that by late on Monday afternoon that the fire was under control and should be extinguished within the next 24 hours.

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