Kochi waste dump fire
Firefighters try to douse the flames after a massive fire broke out at the Brahmapuram waste plant in Kochi on Saturday, March 4. Image Credit: ANI

Thiruvananthapuram: The air quality in Kochi city remained unhealthy on Monday, five days after a massive fire broke out at a waste dump yard.

The Ernakulam District Collector Renu Raj said that the fire in Brahmapuram waste dump yard near Kochi has been put out, but toxic fumes keep rising from the garbage heap.

“There are 30 fire tenders on the site and at least 125 firefighters are engaged in fighting the fire,” she said.

The Navy and Air Force was also assisting with the operations.

Students in schools till Grade 7 in and around the city have been given a holiday on Tuesday as well.

Earlier, the Kochi district authorities directed the residents to stay indoors as the smoke from the Brahmapuram plant fire was engulfing the city.

Renu Raj had said on Sunday that more oxygen kiosks would be set up in Brahmapuram. Raj said the administration was prepared to tackle any emergency health situation. The district collector has also directed people not to venture out and if there was an emergency, they should wear masks properly. The authorities have asked the asthmatic people to be cautious.

A fire broke out on Thursday in the waste dump at the Brahmapuram plant. The Kochi City police commissioner Sethuraman told mediapersons on Sunday that the police have commenced an investigation into the reasons behind the fire in the plant. The Chief Secretary of Kerala, Dr V.P. Joy directed the state police to conduct an investigation into the reason behind the fire.

The Brahmapuram waste plant, located near the edge of Kochi city, is known for the massive mounds of waste on its premises. The plant is owned and operated by Kochi city authorities.

Officials say fires here are common at this time of the year due to the extreme heat. Locals have protested earlier against the fires and the alleged health hazard caused by the burning of plastic here.

It’s not clear yet what led to the latest fire. A firefighter said layers of plastic had heated up underneath the mounds of waste, delaying the operation.