Seven fire devices are still at the Woolston Yard Junkyard about 12 hours after the old cars started burning last night. Manufactured with funding from NZ On Air. Video / Jeff Sloan / Star News
A fire in a scrap metal yard in Christchurch is expected to burn throughout the day as people who live and work nearby are being asked to stay inside and close all windows and doors.
A public health warning has also been issued with the Canterbury County Health Board concerned that a wide range of pollutants may be released into the atmosphere.
Seven fire trucks remain at the scrapyard site in Woolston nearly 12 hours after the old cars began burning last night, sending fires at least four stories high into the air.
The Fire and Emergencies organization said this morning that the fire was now contained to the main vehicle pile, although it is still burning and will be there for some time.
While the fire continued to rage, residents and businesses in the vicinity were warned to stay indoors and to close their doors and windows.
Assistant Commander Dave Key said the incident would be “protracted” and firefighters were expected to be on the scene throughout Thursday.
The plume of smoke is currently rising straight,
Hoops remained in place on the streets around the fire, including Cumnor Tce, Garlands Rd, Marshall St.
Firefighters remained in both garlands to help the evacuees themselves return to their homes.
“We would like once again to thank the public and the surrounding companies for their cooperation in fighting this fire,” Key said.
Environmental efforts continue to ensure that runoff in the Heathcote River is stopped or contained. Booms were put into place on the river and sucker trucks were used to drain any runoff.
Te Mana Ora, a division of Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury, has issued a public health warning about smoke from the fire.
The air in the space was smoky and there was a possibility that people allergic to smoke — such as those with heart or lung disease, pregnant women, young children, and the elderly — could experience symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath or eye, nose, and throat irritation.
The medical officer at health, Dr. Matt Reed, said exposure to smoke can exacerbate pre-existing health conditions such as asthma and heart disease.
“People affected by smoke should close windows and doors and reduce outdoor exercise.”
Flame ‘four stories high’
The fire caught on last night when dozens of cars caught fire in a scrap metal yard in Woolston, Christchurch.
Emergency and emergency calls were called to the event on Garlands Road at 7.58 p.m. A company spokesperson said that as of 9.27 p.m., there were 13 fire engines at the site.
An eyewitness at the scene told the Herald that the flames were “at least four stories high” and the flames appeared to be “rapidly increasing” as cars set ablaze.
“There are crackles and loud explosions coming from the cars and there are sparks everywhere.”
A nearby Pitbull rescue center has been evacuated, and it was posted on Facebook that Christchurch City Council had housed her cubs “on very short notice”.
The police were managing traffic on the surrounding roads. A police spokesman said they were advising people to avoid the area while the incident was being resolved.
An eyewitness also said that a large crowd of about 100 spectators gathered to watch the burning cars. The Fire and Emergency are urging residents in surrounding areas to stay away to allow firefighters to operate safely.
They are also asking residents who live in the vicinity to close all windows and doors.