The fire at the waste facility in Lismore is still sending smoke towards the CBD.
The fire at the waste facility in Lismore is still sending smoke towards the CBD. Marc Stapelberg

LISMORE TIP FIRE: 'Stay indoors, close windows'

UPDATE, 2.35pm: HEALTH authorities have issued an air pollution alert for the Northern Rivers this afternoon, with "significant" bushfire activity in the region and a fire still burning at the Lismore tip. 

North Coast Public Health Unit says people with heart and respiratory conditions should take extra care.

Communities around Grafton, Lismore and Casino and the surrounding areas may be particularly affected in the coming days.

Assistant Director of Public Health North Coast, Greg Bell, said children, older adults and people with heart and lung conditions were most susceptible to the effects of air pollution and excessive smoke.

"If you have asthma you should follow your Asthma Action Plan and take your relieving medication where necessary and if symptoms get worse, seek medical advice," Mr Bell said.

"Smoke may aggravate existing heart and lung conditions and cause irritated eyes, coughing and wheezing.

"Stay indoors, close windows and follow your health plan.

"To minimise any effects of smoke or air pollution, people should also consider avoiding vigorous exercise, seeking out air-conditioned premises and even consider moving away from the direct path of smoke whilst fires are still active.

"It's also a good idea for people with known health conditions to check the NSW Rural Fire Service website for regular updates on current fires."

In case of emergency always remember to dial triple zero.

NSW Environment Protection Authority's regional director of waste, Cate Woods, said the EPA was aware that smoke from the fire was impacting nearby residents.

She said EPA staff will attend the site as soon as it is safe to do so.

"The EPA has spoken to Lismore City Council staff who advise that residents impacted by smoke are being provided with free respirators via an arrangement with a local hardware store," she said.

"The facility has suffered extensive damage which has impacted waste collection services."

Ms Woods said at this stage, the full extent of the damage and disruption is unknown.

"Once the fire is fully extinguished, the EPA can work with council to implement contingency measures to minimise disruption to waste collection whilst ensuring environmental impacts are managed," she said.

 

Original story: FIRES continue to burn around the Northern Rivers today.

Residents affected by smoke from a fire at the Lismore Recycling & Recovery Centre in Wyrallah Road, East Lismore, are being advised to stay indoors or use a respirator if venturing outside.

The fire occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning in the compost piles and the Materials Recovery Facility where recyclable materials including plastics are processed. It is believed the combination of the pasteurising compost and strong winds set the compost piles smouldering, which later ignited the Materials Recovery Facility building.

Emergency service personnel contained the blaze within the Materials Recovery Facility by midday Sunday however the compost piles continue to smoulder and this is likely to continue until the current windy conditions abate. Once the wind subsides the compost stockpiles can be safely agitated and saturated with water.

No-one was injured in the incident but smoke from the fire could potentially be harmful to people with respiratory or lung problems, and residents that can smell or see smoke are urged to stay indoors with windows and doors closed until the smoke subsides.

People with asthma who can see or smell smoke can collect free respirators at the Bunnings trade desk by showing ID with a residential address within or around Lismore.

The Lismore Pound has been unaffected by the fire and the animals in care are unharmed, with staff monitoring their safety and wellbeing.

Waste collection will continue as normal across the city however there may be delays to pick-up times and residents are urged to be patient and leave bins out until they are emptied.

The Materials Recovery Facility is currently inoperable and needs to be assessed for damage. This assessment is unable to take place until the fire is fully extinguished and the site can be safely inspected.

Council will transport waste to other facilities in the Northern Rivers and Queensland while the Lismore Recycling & Recovery Centre is inoperable. The Lismore Recycling & Recovery Centre and the Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens will remain closed until further notice.

The Brewster Street Drop-off Centre has been temporarily closed as skips are currently full. It will be reopened on Wednesday.


Community information:
• A fire broke out at the Lismore Recycling & Recovery Centre at Wyrallah Road, East Lismore, early on Sunday morning.

• The fire has been extinguished by emergency service crews but the compost piles continue to smoulder and produce smoke.

• Community members that can see or smell smoke should stay indoors with windows and doors closed or use a respirator outside. Residents should turn off heating and cooling systems if these draw air from outside.

• People with asthma who can see or smell smoke can collect free respirators at the Bunnings trade desk by showing ID with a residential address within or around Lismore.

• Waste collections remain as normal across the city but there may be delays to pick-up times and residents are urged to be patient and leave bins out until they are collected.

• The Brewster Street Drop-off Centre is temporarily closed and will reopen on Wednesday.

• The Lismore Recycling & Recovery Centre and the Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens are closed until further notice.


If you can smell smoke, please note:
• Smoke can affect people's health.

• People with pre-existing health problems, heart or lung conditions (including asthma), children, pregnant women and older people are more sensitive to the effects of breathing in smoke.

The status fires burning in the region is as follows:

  • Lismore Recycling and Recovery Centre - under control, but still burning. Residents are advised to take precautions to avoid smoke from the fire. Read more here.
  • Rappville - the Clearfield Road has burnt 1880 ha so far but is being controlled. Read more here.
  •  
  • Whiporie - Lookout Rd, Whiporie is under control and has burnt 635 ha
  • Kippenduff - the Brewers Rd fire has burnt 499 ha
  • Tabulam - Paddys Flat Road fire is under control and has burnt 45 ha
  • Yabbra - Fire at Yabbra Road has burnt 100 ha and is under control

Road closures are in place due to the fires.

Summerland Way between Casino and Grafton remains closed this morning while crews continue to control a blaze in Rappville.

Local residents are permitted to travel along Summerland Way, except between Bungawalbin-Whiporie Rd and Avenue Rd.

Orara Way near Lanitza is closed in both directions due to a bushfire. Live Traffic NSW is reporting that the Pacific Highway is open in both directions but smoke may reduce visibility.

The train line between Sydney and Brisbane is currently closed between Rappville and Lawrence Rd.