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Smoke, Smell From Landfill Fire Likely To Be Noticeable In Belgrade For Days, Officials Say

 A fire at the landfill in Vinca burned for months in 2017.
A fire at the landfill in Vinca burned for months in 2017.

A fire in a landfill near Belgrade has been brought under control, authorities said on August 8, but they warned that smoke that blanketed the city and an acrid smell are likely to persist for days.

Much of Belgrade was covered in smoke, haze, and foul smells after the fire erupted late on August 7 in a landfill in the village of Vinca on Belgrade’s outskirts.

Belgrade city government official Darko Glavas said efforts to fully extinguish the fire will continue in the coming days with the help of heavy machinery that will turn over the garbage. There is no danger of a new fire, Glavas said.

The unpleasant smell was noticeable at the Belgrade’s Ada Ciganlija beach, according to an RFE/RL reporter, and people posted pictures on social networks showing smoke in different parts of Belgrade.

Mayor Zoran Radojcic said Belgrade residents should close their windows and refrain from leaving their homes if they smell the smoke outside.

“Although people are likely to see the smoke for the next few days, I assure you there is no need for fear and panic,” Radojcic said.

Andrej Sostaric of the City Institute for Public Health also urged residents to close their windows and reduce activities outdoors. The smoke will be short-lived and concentrations of pollutants do not exceed limits, he said.

Deputy Mayor Goran Vesic also said the fire was under control but said smoke will be seen for another five or six days in different parts of Belgrade until the fire is completely extinguished.

Environmental organizations accused Vesic of trying to reduce the severity of the fire instead of providing a clear explanation about how it broke out and instructions for reducing it.

The landfill has been a source of air, soil, and water pollution for decades despite large foreign and domestic investments to close the site and move it away from the 2 million residents of the capital. A fire in 2017 burned for months.

The landfill was taken over by a French-Japanese company in a public-private partnership. Two plants for processing waste to produce electricity were built along with a new sanitary landfill with a wastewater treatment plant, Vesic said.

The environmental organizations and citizens' associations demanded urgent action from city authorities and Serb government institutions. Authorities have a duty not only to manage waste and prevent such incidents “but also to urgently and accurately inform the public if they occur," they said in a statement.

The statement said the competent institutions must explain the cause of the fire and immediately declare a state of emergency and publish instructions for the behavior of citizens.

With reporting by AP