Crews are “making good progress” at the site of a blaze at a waste facility in Auckland’s Onehunga yesterday, with the “deep-seated” fire remaining “contained but active”.
Incident controller Brad Harvey said today that crews were being assisted by heavy machinery and Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) drones.
“Diggers and front-end loaders are working to dig and delayer the fire, with aerial appliances directing water to keep the area damp.
“USAR drones were operating earlier today to help our crews identify hot spots.”
He said the fire was under control, but that operations were expected to continue through the night with a smaller crew in attendance.
Green Gorilla chief executive Elaine Morgan said that the dampening process will prepare the area for clearing at some stage next week.
“I appreciate and am really grateful for the ongoing support and cooperation from all parties involved as we work towards resolving the situation.”
Emergency services were called to the Victoria St scene at about 1pm yesterday after a pile of wood chips caught alight.
Smoke billowed into the sky at the fire’s peak, prompting an evacuation of neighbouring commercial properties.
Photos from the scene this morning showed grey clouds continuing to rise, nearly 18 hours after the fire was initially reported.
Morning commuters were affected as well, with westbound lanes on Neilson St closed between Alfred St and Galway St.
At about 10am this morning, FENZ said eight crews were at the scene.
“Our crews will be continuing the work throughout the day, with our focus on using heavy machinery to dig through the burning timber and waste pile,” Assistant Commander Mike Manning said. “The water supply is adequate for our operations.”
Manning’s comments come after Green Gorilla chief executive Elaine Morgan told RNZ there “was an issue with water on the street” and crews “didn’t have adequate water resources to fight the fire”.
Manning told RNZ that firefighters were “well equipped to adapt to those water supply issues in the infancy of a job but we secured an adequate water supply very, very quickly to enable us to go about our work”.
Neighbouring commercial properties were evacuated yesterday but there were no residential evacuations.
The Onehunga facility diverts waste from landfills, including separating recyclable materials such as metal, wood, rubble, cardboard, paper, aluminium cans, steel, and plastic bottles. The wood chipping operation converts treated and untreated wood into useful products such as biofuel, landscaping chips, and animal bedding.
Victoria St remained closed and anyone affected by the smoke was urged to contact Healthline if they were concerned about their health.