Six-hour battle to quell fire at landfill

Balclutha residents were advised to shut their doors and windows against noxious smoke as the town’s landfill went up in flames yesterday morning.

A helicopter with a monsoon bucket was deployed to battle the blaze in a rubbish pile at Mt Cooee landfill, near the Kaitangata highway on the outskirts of the South Otago town.

A helicopter with a monsoon bucket battles a blaze at the Mt Cooee landfill in Balclutha...
A helicopter with a monsoon bucket battles a blaze at the Mt Cooee landfill in Balclutha yesterday morning. Photos: Gerard O'Brien
The fire began about 9am, and a Fire and Emergency NZ spokesman said crews from as far afield as Kaka Point and Waihola were turned out to assist firefighters from Balclutha, along with a command unit from Dunedin.

There was no word on the cause of the blaze, and the origin of landfill fires was  frequently difficult to determine, the spokesman said.

It took several hours and significant volumes of water from a helicopter’s monsoon bucket to bring under control by about 3pm.

The neighbouring Balclutha Golf Club was evacuated and closed, and the Clutha District Council issued a warning for north Balclutha residents to close windows and doors.

Firefighters manned roadblocks either side of the Kaitangata highway, and had to periodically turn back residents towing loads of green waste. However, those residents may not have to wait long to get rid of their waste, as the landfill was expected to be open for business today.

Fire crews work on the ground.
Fire crews work on the ground.

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