Residents in Central Israel Told to Stay Indoors Due to Garbage Dump Fire

Concentration of dangerous particles in the air was below danger levels, says Environmental Protection Ministry

Smoke rises near Ashdod in central Israel, May 17, 2017.
Environmental Protection Ministry

A brush fire that spread to an illegal garbage dump north of Ashdod’s industrial zone on Wednesday caused smoke and a stench to spread over a wide area in the center of the country, from Ashdod to Tel Aviv.

Residents of one neighborhood in Yavneh were advised on Wednesday by the Environmental Protection Ministry to refrain from going out of doors. The ministry also recommended that residents of Ashdod and surrounding areas stay indoors as much as possible as long as the smoke is present.

Firefighters were struggling to reach areas of the fire, which began in a field of thistles at abandoned oxygenation pools (where garbage was once treated using natural oxygen). The blaze then spread to garbage that had been illegally dumped there and contained tires, which increased its magnitude, according to Environmental Protection Ministry southern district head Baruch Weber.

Firefighters decided to channel purified wastewater from the Ashdod waste treatment plant to extinguish the fire more quickly. Weber said the fire had not reached Ashdod’s old garbage dump, which contains a large amount of flammable material.

The ministry received numerous complaints about the stench and smoke from several communities in the vicinity, including Ashdod, Yavneh, Nir Galim, Tel Aviv and Bat Yam. According to the ministry, the concentration of dangerous particles in the air, measured at the monitoring station in the area, was below danger levels.