Smoke from landfill site fire chokes the city

Smoke from a fire at the city dump could be seen from kilometres away.
Smoke from a fire at the city dump could be seen from kilometres away.

High temperatures and a hot wind fanned a big fire at the New England Road landfill site on Sunday.

Billowing smoke could be seen kilometres away.

Assistant chief fireman Lloyd Singh said that because it was Sunday they were understaffed, and had to call on volunteers to assist them to fight the blaze.

They also had to get bulldozers and water tankers to the site.

“The fire is deep-seated, so we have to move the rubbish to get to where it is,” he said, adding that it would take a few days to be extinguished.

Singh believes that the landfill site needs to be fully fenced so that fires can be prevented, as wastepickers, who are allowed inside the dump, could be the ones starting the fires.

One reader, who asked to remain anonymous, said the firefighters were doing as good a job as they could given the limitations they had in terms of equipment.

He claimed that one of the tankers had broken down, which meant the fire teams could only concentrate their efforts on one part of the site.

“The whole dump is burning ... the firefighters are fighting a losing battle,” the man added. “This smoke is going to affect the whole city; some of the schools might have to close.

“I think that criminal charges should be laid against the council for not securing the site properly.”

South African Weather Service weather forecaster Edward Engelbrecht said it was 39 degrees Celsius in the capital on Sunday and the wind speed was 10 knots, which is moderate.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said that the council was attending to the fire and providing additional equipment. “We are investigating the cause,” she added.

Just over a month ago, there was another fire at the dumpsite, which is believed to have started following the dumping of toxic waste.

Several people told The Witness that the fire started on top of a “candle-like substance” that is being dumped by factories. It then spread to other parts of the dumpsite.

They said that whenever it gets too hot, the substance ignites and starts a fire.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Daily Poll
Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, it’s never too early
8% - 5 votes
Not yet
40% - 26 votes
I don’t do Christmas shopping
52% - 34 votes


Read the digital editions of Witness here.
Read now