THOUSANDS of bales of animal feed were destroyed in a blaze at a Bluff warehouse. Sibonelo Ngcobo African News Agency (ANA)
DURBAN - Bluff residents who live near a warehouse that was gutted in a fire this week say that smoke from the fire has affected their health.

Some also said that there was an odour from the warehouse prior to the fire. More than 2000 bales of animal feed were destroyed in the fire that started on Saturday morning.

A resident said he had had to keep the windows of his home closed since Saturday to prevent smoke from entering the house.

“As we stay at the top of the hill, the smoke was coming from the burning warehouse below our houses. We could not even hang our clothes outside. I am sick because of the smoke from the fire that I inhaled,” he said.

Another resident, who did not want to be named, said the odour from the warehouse had been a problem prior to the fire. “This place smelt bad even before the fire. We are affected the most as we live close to it. I have sinus now because of this place, the smell is too much,” said the resident.

Bongani Mthembu, a geographic information system and air quality officer at the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, said even though it was reported that the smoke from the fire was not toxic, it would be different from smoke from a wild fire.

Mthembu said people with sinus problems would be affected by the smoke, especially as the fire had been burning for more than three days.

The owner of the warehouse, Trevor Capell, said he had not received any complaints from the community about odours from the warehouse prior to the fire.

“The municipal officials did arrive today (yesterday) and they told us that they have received numerous complaints about the smoke, but before then, no one has complained to us,” said Capell.

He added that a forensic team would probe the cause of the fire.

“We can not tell at this point the cost of the damage, but I know that it is a lot. It is not just the animal feed, the building is also damaged,” said Capell.

The fire department said that because of the animal feed being compressed it had taken three days to put out the fire.

eThekwini fire divisional commander Nkulumo Dube said firefighters had had to work through the night to control the fire.

He added that the wind had made their work more difficult because it would cause flare-ups.

“We damped the area and now it is smouldering. We are going to use a payloader to dig up the feed from the bottom and extinguish it outside the warehouse,” said Dube.