Landfill fire update

Community members rallied support and provided refreshments to dedicated firemen at the landfill site

While the fire at the New England road municipal dumpsite continues to smoulder and engulf the city in smoke, environmental groups have accused the municipality of mismanaging the site.

Attempting to contain the fire against all odds, numerous municipal and private firefighters have been working relentlessly in today’s heat against adverse conditions.

Rallying support for the firemen, several community members have responded to calls, via social media chat groups, to provide refreshments for the dedicated officers. Responding with bottles of water, pizzas, and chocolates, the firemen were well provided for.

Acting municipal spokesman Siyabonga Hlongwa said they hoped to have the fire extinguished by Sunday – but that was dependant on added resources, non-stop fire fighting and favourable weather conditions.

He said extra resources in the form of graders, landfill compactor and water tankers that were brought in on Friday morning, enabled firemen to gain more control over the site and the situation was steadily improving.

“Due to strong winds, high temperatures, and dryness of the environment, the fire spread quickly from Thursday at about 2.30pm, over 100m. That was partially contained but the fire was not put out hence the smoke and other atmospheric pollution,” said Hlongwa.

He said the municipality was sourcing the assistance of other fire-fighting institutes and resources.

By 9.30am on Friday most schools and businesses had closed and were to take a decision about re-opening on Monday based on progress of the extinguishing of the fire.

Many residents took to social media to complain about the effects of the smoke. Some of these included asthma attacks, burning eyes and sinus attacks.


GroundWorks Waste management campaigner Musa Chamane told the Maritzburg Sun that the New England landfill site was “mismanaged” as the municipality had yet to form a committee, as agreed upon in 2014, to oversee the site.

The environmental group further highlighted the detrimental health hazards that may arise from the toxic emission being released from the burning of various waste materials such as plastics and other recyclable materials present at the landfill site.

They have advised those suffering with asthma and other respiratory disorders to exercise caution and stay indoors.



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Maritzburg Sun reporter

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