Papakura scrap ignites ‘arduous, slow, hot, dirty and dangerous operation’

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A fire at a scrap yard in Papakura, which had burned down for much of yesterday, was extinguished overnight.

Fire investigators are looking for the cause of the large fire.
Photo: New Zealand Union of Professional Fire Fighters

A local fire chief said the nature of the fire amidst a highly flammable and toxic material made it difficult to extinguish.

The last truck left the site at 4.30am. Crews had been battling the blaze since 8 a.m. yesterday morning, with eight fire apparatus used to tackle the blaze last night.

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At one point, the fire burned an area 50 m by 50 m.

Smoke rises from the Papakura fire on 12/01/2021.

Photo: RNZ / Ella Stewart

Fire and emergency services worked through the night to tear up materials and alleviate hot spots.

The waste consisted of steel scrap, mostly plastic, foam and rubber parts from steel devices, which meant the material was particularly flammable and dangerous.

The material had to be lifted using large excavators so that the deep fire could be extinguished.

Geoff Purcell, regional director of Fire and Emergency’s Counties Manukau, described the fight against the fire as “an arduous, slow, hot, dirty and dangerous operation”.

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“There are all kinds of contaminants in there… used oil, gasoline in cars, plastic, all these kinds of materials. Everyone knows who smelled a fire like this, they are full of toxins and carcinogens. “

Fire investigators are meeting on site with plant operators this morning to determine the cause of the blaze, which started in the junk pile.

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