Smoke continues to billow from the solid waste (garbage) dumping yard of the Mangalore City Corporation at Vamanjoor even days after the waste caught fire. The fire was first noticed on Saturday.

On Wednesday, corporation officials and workers were seen trying to put out the fire. As flames are not visible, earthmovers are being used to spread the huge pile of waste, and water is being poured on it.

H.S. Varadarajan, Chief Fire Officer, Mangalore, told The Hindu on Wednesday that the Department of Fire and Emergency Services had pressed into service five fire tenders for three days from Sunday. “We did not send the fire tenders on Wednesday as we thought that it would be no use as the fire is spreading owing to inflammable methane emanating from the solid waste dumped at the yard,” he said.

Mr. Varadarajan said that fire tenders could spray water only on the top layer of the garbage. If the fire has to be extinguished, the heap of waste has to be spread and water poured on it.

He charged that corporation officials had not arranged for adequate number of earthmovers since Sunday. Mr. Varadarajan said he brought the issue to the notice of Deputy Commissioner V. Ponnuraj on Wednesday and urged that 13 lorries for supplying water and 10 earthmovers be pressed into service. “If they are provided, we will press 10 fire tenders into service,” he said.

Madhu S. Manohar, Environment Engineer of the corporation, who is supervising the operations at the yard, said the civic body had provided three earthmovers since Sunday. Another earthmover was pressed into service on Wednesday. A fire tender of Mangalore Chemicals and Fertilizers Ltd. was pressed into service on Wednesday evening. Mr. Manohar said that the fire was noticed at 10 p.m. on Saturday. At this point it was difficult say what caused the fire, he said.

Meanwhile, some officials blamed the corporation authorities for the fire. They said that in 2007, under a project of Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation (KUIDFC), the heap of solid waste at the yard was covered with layers of clay. Vents were provided for methane to escape. However, corporation workers continued to dump garbage on the clay layer and blocked all the vents. As there was no provision for methane to escape, the gas might have caught fire, they said.

Solid waste dumped at the yard had caught fire in January 2009. It had taken a week for the corporation authorities to douse it the fire.

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