The fire started at a rubbish tip in Botkyrka, southern Stockholm, on December 23rd and has continued for weeks, covering an area around 10,000 square metres, while efforts to extinguish it are only able to begin this week.
The reason is the potential risk of landslides associated with covering the fire with sand or water, according to the local fire brigade. The fire brigade has been working with the Civil Contingencies Agency, city council and other authorities to decide on the next steps, and tests have now shown that they can use heavy machinery to begin extinguishing the blaze.
In the meantime, the smell of smoke has spread across the city, even reaching the city centre of Stockholm almost 20 kilometres from the fire.
“It is still a serious situation. The smoke has spread over a large area and depending on the wind direction, it is noticeable in several municipalities. We understand that the smoke causes discomfort and many legitimate questions are asked. It is also completely understandable that there isfrustration, anger and fear as some questions still don't have answers,” Pernilla Vera Jr, Botkyrka's Safety Director, said in a statement from the municipality.
The Mitti newspaper, which also filmed the video below, reports that fire services estimate that the rubbish tip contains around 100,000 tonnes of waste.
It could still be a while before the fire is completely put out – up to two more months, and likely at least four weeks. To extinguish the fire, firefighters will focus on covering it with sand rather than using water, which would be too risky due to the landslide risk.
The municipality said that the current assessment by experts was that long-term impact on health was unlikely and there was no need for residents to evacuate, but anyone with a cardiovascular disease who experienced discomfort was urged to contact their doctor for advice. The municipality is also planning to analyse the smoke for particles and nitrogen oxides.