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Transfer station trash fire

Crews from five fire brigades across the region were called to a “well-involved” blaze at the Martinborough transfer station in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The potential culprit? A lithium battery.

Tankers from Upper Hutt Rural, Carterton, and Masterton were called to the scene, with two crews from Martinborough and one from Featherston also in attendance.

Martinborough’s chief fire officer Jake Hawkins said the brigade was initially alerted to the blaze by a neighbour, and by the time they arrived, it was “well-involved”.

The call came through at 12.55am and the on-scene crews didn’t leave until well after 6am on yesterday morning.

Hawkins speculated that the cause could have been a lithium battery improperly disposed of in general waste. but he couldn’t be certain.

Because they didn’t know what was in the rubbish or exactly how it started, the crew wore breathing apparatus because the “smoke was potentially quite toxic”, Hawkins said. Due to the size of the blaze, which Hawkins described as “a big fire”, they drenched the fiery inferno with “heaps of water”.

A spokesperson for South Wairarapa District Council, which operates the transfer station, said the damage is still being assessed but is “unlikely to be significant”.

“Recent steps to implement a battery recycling scheme, along with separating scrap metal from the landfill, helps to mitigate these instances.”

Most of the damage was done to landfill waste, netting, and poles, the spokesperson said.

“It was confined as concrete pad and concrete blocks surround the landfill zone, so it didn’t spread.”

The transfer station was able to open as normal on Wednesday with workers keeping a “high profile around damaged waste until it can be taken from site in 10 days”.

The SWDC spokesperson also speculated that the cause of the blaze was “possibly a lithium battery that was damaged, which can cause sparking”.

They took the opportunity to highlight that battery recycling points are available at SWDC transfer stations and that, after the success of their recent year-long-trial, a battery recycling point will be established at Ngāwī.

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