Residents in a village in South Yorkshire have spent seven weeks engulfed in toxic smoke from an industrial fire that fire services are finding difficult to put out.
According to The Guardian, a building storing what fire services and the Environment Agency described as “domestic type waste” caught fire on the 21st of September.
Since then, the residents of Kiveton Park, near Rotherham, have been told to stay in their homes and keep their windows shut so they don’t breathe in the toxic smoke being emitted from the blaze.
They have been told the chemicals in the smoke can irritate the air passages, skin and eyes.
The residents are growing more and more concerned over their safety, as the blaze is still ongoing. Fire services and the Environment Agency have extinguished around two-thirds of the fire but certain hard-to-reach areas of the large warehouse keep reigniting.
The Environment Agency said that the burnt plastic and paper is forming a “crust” that is making it difficult for the firefighting water to reach the parts that haven’t been put out yet.
Lindsay Garner, landlady of The Station pub situated in the village, told The Guardian she had been instructed to keep her doors closed.
She said: “It’s not like a normal fire. It’s just a different smell. We think we’re sailors now because we see where the wind is going to be blowing on a weekly basis. When you’re downwind and it’s constant, you feel your eyes stinging. It does get in your eyes and throat.”
Whilst Garner praised the fire services for their effort, she added that more needs to be done to fully extinguish the fire and help the businesses that have been affected by it.
She said she has personally tried to enquire about compensation for her business losses - usually her pub would have double the amount of customers - but feels as though she has been “passed from pillar to post.”
It’s true that tensions are rising amongst the people in Kiveton Park. According to Garner, a meeting was held on Thursday evening where residents clashed with the Health Security Agency after they were told NHS data revealed no increases in respiratory issues since the start of the fire.
An employee at the village’s doctor’s surgery contradicted the statement by saying she had seen more people coming to the surgery with symptoms thought to be caused or made worse by the smoke from the blaze.
The Environment Agency spokesperson told The Guardian: “The work will take some time and we ask local residents to bear with us while the work takes place.”
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