Up in smoke: Poland fights landfill fires

During the weekend, Polish emergency services were called in to fight large landfill fires which broke out in two different regions of the country.

In the town of Trzebinia, southern Poland, a fire broke out at night at an illegal tire dump which has now been disused for several years. Local residents woke up to a rather terrifying sight, as the billowing smoke formed a shape not dissimilar to that of a mushroom cloud formed by a nuclear blast.

More than 170 firemen arrived at the scene to put out the blaze, using aircraft to drop large quantities of water on a fire which, by that time, had already spread across an area of about 900 sqm (969 sq ft).

Since the site has not seen any active use for some time, investigators believe that arson may have been the cause.

Earlier on Friday, another conflagration engulfed an illegal landfill in the town of Zgierz, central Poland, where more than 250 firefighters struggled to bring the blaze under control for more than 24 hours.

The presence of highly combustible materials such as plastics did not help the matter, and although the smoke was not deemed particularly toxic, local residents were advised to refrain from exercising outside or opening windows. As in the case of the tire dump blaze in Trzebinia, investigators suspect arson, even though other causes such as spontaneous combustion or accidental fire are also not being ruled out.