The pungent plume of white smoke that mushroomed over some parts of Pietermaritzburg on Sunday morning was due to a fire at the landfill site.
According to a source at the New England Road landfill site, the fire started at about 7 pm on Saturday night and continued into Sunday afternoon.
The source said firefighters were called to the landfill but initially battled to reach the fire due to the heavy rains making the rubbish-strewn ground inaccessible to vehicles.
Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the wet roads posed a challenge and staff at the landfill site had to create two roads to the fire. When The Witness arrived at the dump on Sunday, staff were hard at work attempting to clear a pathway to the fire. The source of the fire is still being investigated.
“Dump fires are common but they are different to normal fires. All you need is one spark and you have tons upon tons of materials ready to catch alight. The fire can be at any layer of the rubbish so locating the flames is the initial problem,” the source said.
Scottsville resident Charmaine Naicker said the smell yesterday morning was “unbearable”. “We live across the highway from the dump so we do not usually get smells. But yesterday, every time the wind blew, we would get a whiff. It was in the air,” Naicker said.
Late yesterday afternoon, Mafumbatha said the fire was under control but not fully extinguished.