Residents could be put to hardship as thick smoke engulfs the area

A major fire has broken out yet again on Sunday at the corporation garbage dump at Ariyamangalam in the city, raising serious concern among residents over the problem that recurs almost every summer.

Residents in and around the garbage dump, located off the Tiruchi-Thanjavur National Highway, could be in for a torrid time for the next few days as the fire sent a dense cloud of white smoke across several residential colonies in wards 7, 28, and 29.

The garbage dump is spread over 47 acres of land where thousands of tonnes of garbage have accumulated down the years.

The corporation dumps about 400 tonnes of solid waste at the garbage yard every day.

Wildfire broke out thrice last summer, triggering protests from residents and elected representatives.

A massive fire in May last year took more than four days to be extinguished and indications are that Sunday’s fire could take at least a couple of days to be put out fully.

Eight fire tenders from Tiruchi, Srirangam, Navalpattu, Manapparai, Pudukottai, Illupur, and Keeranur, along with 13 corporation water tankers, have been fighting to bring the fire under control. The fire was reported at around noon and spread rapidly aided by the dry weather and gutsy winds.

Although there was initial problems in the operation after some of the fire tenders ran out of water, the corporation diverted all its tanker lorries to the site.

Thousands of residents in colonies off the Ambikapuram Road and others situated close to the dump, including Jaganathapuram, Anna Nagar, Venkateswara Nagar, Nehruji Nagar, and Thideer Nagar, are bearing the brunt of the pollution.

“This has become a perennial problem, with fires occurring every summer. Every time there is fire, officials try to put in place some measures but there has been no permanent solution.

The smoke is unbearable and we experience eye irritation,” said Gracy, a resident of Ambikapuram.

Given the height of the garbage mounds and the strong winds, fire fighters were finding it difficult to control the fire.

“Over 50 of our men have been deployed to bring the fire under control. We are doing our best. Since the fire is burning deep inside the mounds, it could take a couple of days to put it out fully,” said Syed Mohamed Shah, Divisional Fire Officer, Tiruchi, who supervised the fire fighting operation.

Corporation officials, who visited the spot, said they were expecting the fire to be brought under control by Sunday night.