To ensure the safety of residents near the Garstkloof landfill site which is currently engulfed by a raging compost fire, the City of Tshwane has established a mobile clinic at the Erasmuskloof Fire Station to treat and assist the residents with medical needs arising from the smoke generated by the fire.
Two compost heaps were opened up to extinguish the fire throughout the night. The strong windy conditions are hampering our efforts to douse the fire swiftly.
On Sunday evening, 5 November 2017, one of the rows of shredded garden waste started emitting smoke, which suggests that a fire must have been burning underneath. The cause of the fire remains unknown, but it is suspected that it may have been caused by spontaneous combustion of waste. This is caused by a combination of a high temperature in the belly of a waste heap and the heat wave conditions on Sunday.
Due to the intense heat and strong wind, the fire spread through all the compost heaps at the site, causing a huge cloud of smoke that is now hovering over some parts of Tshwane's eastern suburbs.
The acting Executive Mayor of Tshwane, Cllr Cilliers Brink, and Ward Councillor Rita Aucamp visited the landfill site this morning to assess the extent of the fire.
"We understand that the situation here is causing anxiety to the surrounding community. We appeal to the nearby residents not to panic. As a caring government that has an interest in the well-being of its residents, we've set up a mobile health facility at the nearby Erasmuskloof Fire Station to provide medical treatment to anyone affected by smoke inhalation arising from the fire at the Garstkloof landfill site. We will also erect tents at Sports Park in Kruger Street, Lyttelton, Centurion, to accommodate the residents who may need a place to sleep overnight in order to escape possible smoke inhalation," Brink said.
A formidable team comprising various emergency services from the neighbouring metros have been roped in together with Working on Fire to intensify our efforts to stabilise the fire. The team is doing everything it can to contain the situation, which will remain with us for the next few days.
"Our Agriculture and Environmental Management Department will immediately conduct an assessment of all the landfill sites of this nature in order to anticipate and prevent this happening again in future, and also to test our fire readiness," Brink said.
We anticipate that by next Monday, 13 November 2017, we will manage to stabilise the fire and we will intensify our efforts in the coming days to finally extinguish it.
We wish to express our unconditional apology to all the residents who have been inconvenienced by the smoke generated by the fire at this landfill site.
At this stage there is no threat of the fire spreading to nearby properties. There is also no threat of the gases from the waste that is buried underneath catching fire, as the waste is covered by more than 1,5 meter of soil cover material.
About three years ago, the City stopped using the site for the purposes of dumping and burying general waste, as it is the practice at landfill sites. This was when the City realised that the site was reaching its allowable height limit. The City then started to use the site to process shredded garden refuse towards making compost as allowed in the operating permit of a landfill site. This is part of the City's programme to separate and re-use recyclable waste material as required by the national waste strategy.
Residents of Pretoria East are advised to close windows and doors to limit smoke inhalation. Children and elderly persons, particularly those with respiratory conditions, are urged to stay indoors. In addition, residents are advised to consult their nearest health centres or the temporary mobile health facility provided by the City of Tshwane should they experience breathing difficulties.
Cllr Cilliers Brink
Acting Executive Mayor of Tshwane
072 010 1638
Acting Spokesperson of the Executive Mayor of Tshwane
079 147 1860
Emergency Management Services Spokesperson
082 789 9577