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News / Rubbish catches fire

Steam coming from the pile of rubbish which caught fire at the Rova Head landfill site on Tuesday morning. Photo courtesy of SIC.

THE FIRE Brigade has spent most of Wednesday tackling a large pile of rubbish which started smouldering after overheating at the Rova Head landfill site to the north of Lerwick.

A fire and rescue spokeswoman said two Lerwick pumps were called out before 9am. Shortly after 1.30pm they requested a third pump from Scalloway, and are now using three jets and four sets of breathing apparatus.

She said a couple of Shetland Islands Council diggers were also helping efforts to get the fire under control.

SIC infrastructure director Maggie Sandison said that when staff arrived at work they noticed smoke coming from an area of landfill.

She said it appeared to be a “deep-seated fire below the surface of the landfill”, something which is not uncommon: if decomposing waste gets hot and oxygen reaches a hot spot, the waste can begin to smoulder.

“The fire brigade was called to be in attendance so that employees could expose the smouldering area and start to extinguish the fire – as more oxygen gets to the hot spot by opening the area up, there is a chance that the area will ignite,” Sandison continued.

“Our initial assessment is that due to the warm weather recently the decomposing waste has become hotter than normal and then the wind changing direction has introduced oxygen into this hot spot, causing it to smoulder.”

She added that there was no public health risk and the situation was under control. SEPA was informed of the incident and it is expected the fire will be extinguished later this afternoon.

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