Dumpsite fire sends choking smoke over Latvia's seaside resort

2017-06-19 12:20:17 GMT2017-06-19 20:20:17(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

RIGA, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Large plumes of smoke were billowing over Latvia's seaside resort city Jurmala on Monday morning after a fire, which rescue services described as especially dangerous, started at an illegal dumpsite on Sunday evening, local media reported.

The blaze started after some 23,000 tons of plastic garbage caught fire at the dumpsite operated by Prima M company in the area of Sloka.

It took more than 12 hours for firefighters to bring the fire under control, which they managed to do by around 5 a.m. on Monday.

The flames had spread to a 1.2 hectares large area, which, apart from the heaps of plastic garbage, also included an hangar, said State Fire and Rescue Service.

Involved in the rescue works were roughly 50 firemen from the State Fire and Rescue Service, as well as two firefighting trains of Latvia's national rail company Latvijas Dzelzcels. The Latvian armed forces also dispatched a helicopter to help deal with the fire.

Rail traffic was temporarily suspended on the Riga-Tumums line between Sloka and Kemeri.

The Latvian law enforcement authorities started a criminal probe into the fire, LETA news agency reported. Representatives of Prima M claimed arson behind the fire.

Representatives of the State Environmental Service said that Prima M had been operating the dumpsite without the necessary license. Earlier, the service had received complaints from local residents about noxious odor coming from the dumpsite, as well as insect and rat infestation.

The State Environmental Service's representatives said that the dumpsite fire in Sloka had deteriorated air quality in Jurmala and Riga, but residents had no reason to worry about their health, as winds continued to dissipate the pollution on Monday.

Meanwhile, work is under way to assess the environmental damage caused by the fire, it said.

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