Smoke travels 11km

Smoke from the Vunato landfill over Lautoka City. Picture: FELIX CHAUDHARY

SMOKE from the Vunato Dump fire has reached as far as Vuda, 11km away.

And as the blaze enters its fifth day, residents from across Lautoka have raised concerns about what the exposure to smoke from the blaze could potentially mean to them.

Smoke has also reached Kashmir — more than 5km from the dump, the upper reaches of Tavakubu and Field 40 — more than 6km from the dump.

Lautoka Residents and Ratepayers Association president Narayan Reddy said there were a number of concerns that needed to be immediately addressed.

“It’s creating a lot of issues for people with breathing problems, especially in infants and the elderly,” said Mr Reddy.

“On the business side of things, it is affecting our tourism industry.

“We have Bekana Island and also hotels in the heart of Lautoka such as Tanoa Waterfront Hotel, Cathay Hotel and Lautoka Hotel, and they have all been affected.”

Yesterday, smoke engulfed Koroipita — home to more than 1000 low-income earning people — located about 3km from the dump.

Eparama Batikale, a block leader at Koroipita, said smoke from the Vunato Dump fire had made breathing and visibility very difficult for residents.

“We have a lot of elderly and young children here and the smoke has affected them,” he said.

“But we really have no idea how much they have been affected because we don’t know what’s in the smoke.

“Someone should have at least advised the public about what’s in the smoke so that we could have taken the necessary precautions.”

Questions sent to the Health Ministry yesterday about the number of people affected by smoke from the Vunato Dump fire remained unanswered when this edition went to press last night.

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