Sydney - A massive pile of tyres on the outskirts of the
south-eastern city of Melbourne caught fire on Monday, sending plumes of
thick, toxic smoke across the area and prompting a health warning.
"Emergency services are attending to a toxic smoke in the area," the
Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade said in a statement.
"Anyone located in the area should shelter indoors ensuring all
exterior doors, windows and vents are turned closed, and that heating
and cooling systems are turned off," it said.
The fire had burnt more than 120 000 tyres by midday in a pile
measuring 120 by 30m, the fire brigade's deputy chief, David
Youssef, told reporters.
He said more than 50 firefighters were responding to "challenging"
blaze. Local media showed the department tackling the smoke and fire
with dozens of fire trucks and aircraft.
"Tyre fires are difficult to extinguish. They can often burn for more
than a day and that's why we're pulling out all stops to try and
bring the fire under control," he said.
"All smoke is toxic, but at the moment due to the wind conditions its
not coming down to ground level so we don't have any significant
concern for the community."
Youssef said the cause of the fire was not known. Local media said
the premises in an industrial area belong to a tyre-recycling plant.
Locals posted dozens of pictures in social media showing thick smoke
rising to the sky and travelling towards Melbourne city.
Even though the area is close to Melbourne international airport the
fire and smoke have had no impact on flight operations, an airport
official was quoted as saying to Australian Associated Press.