Fire at Christchurch wastewater plant, nearby residents warned to close windows

A fire broke out at the Christchurch wastewater treatment plant in Bromley today, prompting a public health warning.

Smoke from the fire, which was reported about 3pm, could be seen across the city.

A Christchurch City Council spokesperson believed the fire started on the roof on the No2 Trickling Filter and then jumped across to the roof of the No 1 Trickling Filter.

"There were contractors working on the roof when the fire broke out. No one was injured and the site is being evacuated.

Photo: Newsline / CCC
Photo: Newsline / CCC
"The roofs on both the trickling filters have collapsed.

"Fire and Emergency New Zealand are on the scene with seven appliances, working to put out the blaze."

The council warned people who live or work in the area to close their windows and doors.

"Please stay away from the area and allow our crews to work quick and safely to extinguish the fire."

The Christchurch wastewater treatment plant is continuing to operate in a limited capacity.

Roads surrounding the plant have been blocked off by police.

Public health warning

Canterbury DHB’s Community and Public Health unit has issued a public health warning for smoke from the fire at the wastewater treatment plant.

"Air around this location is smoky and there is potential that people who are sensitive to smoke – such as those with heart or lung conditions, pregnant women, young children and the elderly ­– may experience symptoms including coughing, shortness of breath or eye, nose and throat irritation."

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Cheryl Brunton says exposure to smoke can worsen pre-existing health conditions such as asthma and heart disease.

"People affected by the smoke should close windows and doors and stay indoors."

The easterly wind is sending smoke in the direction of some of Christchurch’s eastern suburbs and central city areas.

"Anyone experiencing health issues from the fire should contact their general practice team for advice, in the first instance,” Brunton said. 

Photo: Geoff Sloan
Photo: Geoff Sloan

If you see or smell smoke outside, you should stay inside if it’s safe to do so.

Remember to:

  • Keep your windows and doors shut.
  • Switch your air conditioning to ‘recirculate’.
  • Air out your house when the smoke clears.
  • Look out for children, older people, and others at risk.
  • Keep pets inside with clean water and food. Keep pets’ bedding inside if possible.