A fire that broke out at the Vientiane Capital landfill site last weekend has finally been extinguished.
The fire raged for five days, burning across almost 34 hectares, and releasing toxic fumes into the atmosphere.
Smoke from the blaze blanketed parts of Vientiane Capital with thick smog reaching as far as the Patuxay Monument downtown.
Mr. Bounchanh Keosithamma, Head of the Vientiane Capital Office for Management and Services (VCOMS), said during a statement that the fire occurred around 12 pm on 29 January at the KM 32 landfill site in Xaythany District, spreading across some 48 hectares.
He said that authorities believe the fire may have been caused by the release of methane gas at the landfill site caused by the accumulation of waste.
The Vientiane Capital Fire Brigade and related rescue services fought the fire with water cannons over several days, while dump trucks were used to fill burnt areas with sand.
Mr. Angphone Phengsoukan, Deputy Director-General of the Vientiane Capital Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said that much of Vientiane was covered in smog due to the fire.
He said that his department had been closely observing the situation and had installed air pollution monitoring systems at three key locations.
Authorities found that the concentration of Sulfur Dioxide (So2) was higher than the environmental standard in some areas, while low levels of Carbon Monoxide (CO) were recorded.
Airborne dust was also recorded at high levels in some areas, considered dangerous to the health of those with respiratory problems, as well as the elderly or children.
The smog has now largely dissipated, according to the natural resources department, with the Xaythany District administration confirming that no reports had been made of residents being affected by the fire or resulting smog.
The landfill last caught fire in March 2018 in a similar incident when a cloud of smog covered the city.
It took several days for firefighters to fully douse the blaze, with authorities calling on residents living in the area to wear face masks as protection against toxic fumes caused by the fire.
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