9 May 2013

Residents angry pit fire burned so long

10:08 pm on 9 May 2013

Some Christchurch residents are questioning why it has taken five weeks to put out a fire at a recycling pit only a few hundred metres away from their home.

The fire spontaneously combusted at the Owaka Pit recycling plant in early April, but the Fire Service said it was too dangerous to put out.

Awatea Residents Association spokesperson Kay Stieller says the smoke has been unbearable and caused respiratory problems for residents.

Ms Stieller has been calling on the Canterbury regional council (ECAN) to take action.

"We're very, very angry. We feel that we were absolutely let down. ECAN, the Fire Service have actually failed in their duty to protect the environment and the community and we really question why we had to put up with this for so long."

The fire has now collapsed in on itself, making it safe for machinery to deconstruct the burning pile and douse it with water. It will take up to two weeks to put out.

The council's compliance and monitoring manager, Brett Aldridge, said on Thursday he is aware that the smoke has been a nuisance for residents.

Mr Aldridge said there has been a delay in acting due to the fine balancing act between the health risk for residents and the safety of fire crews.