Fire crews are still battling to control a massive blaze which is taking hold at a scrap metal yard in South Auckland and sending huge plumes of black smoke into the sky.
An “emergency alert” has been sent to local residents’ phones, telling them to close all windows and doors, put air-conditioning on to re-circulate and to call Healthline if they feel unwell.
A reporter at the scene said people who were still in the area were now wearing masks.
And anyone heading home that way is being advised to make other plans.
Speaking at the scene, Counties Manukau Fire area commander Geoff Purcell explained the fire was about 20m deep and the only way to tackle it was to hose it down, tear parts of it away with an excavator and putting out the flames – before repeating the process.
“It’s going to take quite a few hours to get on top of this and people that drive through this area on their way home – at 5 o’clock – I’d suggest they start planning an alternate route,” he said.
“We anticipate to be going through into the evening before this fire is extinguished.
“That smoke nuisance is going to continue late into the night.”
Up to 10 fire appliances and two helicopters have been at the site on Hunua Rd since just after 8am, when the alarm was first raised about a car on fire.
An update at 10.30am said crews were still working to bring the blaze under control.
“As there are large volumes of smoke in the area, keep doors and windows shut as a precautionary measures,” a Fire and Emergency NZ statement said.
Workers from nearby businesses have evacuated the scene.
People have been posting on social media from as far away as Pukekohe saying they can see the smoke from the blaze.
A witness said there was a “definite plastic/chemical smell”.
Shortly before 9.30am, police put out a warning to locals.
“Local residents in the Papakura area are being asked to stay indoors due to the large amount of smoke in the area.”
Firefighters have come from stations around the South Auckland and city areas, including from Ōtāhuhu, Māngere, Clevedon, Ōtara, Papakura, Papatoetoe, Pukekohe, Avondale, Parnell and Ellerslie.
Fire services were called to the scene on Hunua Rd just after 8am.
A northern fire communications spokeswoman said they got the first report of the blaze at 8.03am.
Fire and Emergency NZ confirmed they are at a scrap metal yard and the size of the blaze is currently measuring about 25m by 15m.
There are no reports of injuries, the spokeswoman said, and there is no danger to any neighbouring properties at this stage.
St John paramedics are there as a precaution, a spokesman said.
“Upon arrival, it was found that the fire had engulfed a large pile of scrap cars and a greater alarm was transmitted to respond more resources.”
Motorists in the area are also being encouraged to stay away. Police have closed off a section of Hunua Rd between Settlement Rd and Boundary Rd. Diversions are in place.
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