SANTIAGO – The fire at the Santa Marta dump, which had covered Santiago in a cloud of almost unbearably smelly smoke for the past several days, has finally been extinguished, the National Emergency Office, or Onemi, announced Sunday.
The fire broke out on Jan. 15 but it did not damage any of the homes nearby, although several elderly people and children had to get medical attention for various health problems, especially in the town of San Bernardo, adjacent to Santiago.
The Chilean capital has seven million residents.
According to Onemi, firefighting teams finally managed to put the fire out using Class A foam mixed with water and augmented with tons of earth.
The Santa Marta dump, located some 30 kilometers (19 miles) southwest of downtown Santiago, receives some 4,200 tons of trash and other waste each day from several municipalities in Greater Santiago, but it has now been closed temporarily by health authorities until it can be determined what caused the fire.
Last Wednesday, the owners of the dump “assumed all responsibility for the incident” and announced that the residents affected by the noxious smoke and vapors produced by the fire would be compensated.
That is what the president of the Santa Marta Consortium, Guillermo Ruiz, told reporters, emphasizing that “those residents who can effectively show that they were ... injured, we will certainly be with them.”