With summer, fire outbreaks have begun in tonnes of garbage lying at the dumping yard at Brahmapuram.
Garbage at the yard caught fire around noon on Friday, and was brought under control by evening, though some parts continued to smoulder, leaving residual smoke. Waste at the site has caught fire once in 2020 and multiple times in 2019, around this time of the year.
The fire was mostly controlled, but fire tenders were still working on two mounds of waste at around 7.30 p.m. “We might have to work all night to contain the huge quantities of smoke the fire generated. Work began by around 12.30 p.m. A total of 13 fire tenders, a high pressure pump and nearly 100 fire personnel are at the spot,” said District Fire Officer Gogy J.S.
A Kochi Corporation health official in charge of the yard said that the fire was still smouldering in the evening. “The waste was mostly plastic. Staff at the plant spotted the spark and alerted us around noon,” he said. To some extent, the pathways created through the yard after last year’s fire might have helped contain the spread, he said.
The fire had spread to around seven mounds of waste, said Navas T.S., panchayat member representing Brahmapuram, who was at the site. “With the wind, it appears to have spread quickly through the dumping yard,” he said. “At Brahmapuram, we are the receiving end of this annual fire breakout,” he added.
Excavators were deployed on Friday to separate the mounds of waste and prevent the fire from spreading further, said T.K. Ashraf, corporation health standing committee chairperson, who was at the site till evening. Efforts were also on to wet the piles of waste that had not been burnt, and generators were set up for the three fire hydrants. “The fire was controlled by evening, but some smoke and embers remained. The cause is still uncertain. It might have been a combination of the heat and the large quantities of plastic at the site,” he said.
The fire hydrants at the site were just being installed and did not have their own power supply, said Mr. Gogy.
Urgent steps would be taken at the plant to prevent the waste from piling up, said Mr. Ashraf. “The defunct bio-composting system will be revived and biomining will have to be initiated soon for the nearly one lakh tonnes of unprocessed waste at the site. It will not suffice to wait for a waste-to-energy plant,” he said.
Mayor M. Anilkumar said that the health standing committee would visit the site soon. “Biomining should be done, but the council has its reservations about the tendering process and the cost for biomining. Once NIT-Calicut quantifies the waste and submits its report, we can discuss it,” he said.