SIDON, Lebanon: The Lebanese Army and the local firefighting brigade in Sidon struggled to extinguish a fire that broke out Wednesday morning in a huge waste dump, shooting fumes and smoke into the air. The landfill, which has been used as a site for the disposal of waste materials for years, measures approximately 30 meters in height, and reportedly contains about 500,000 bottles. The Army called in helicopters to help extinguish the fire, which was exacerbated by wind interference and the city’s water shortage. Water was not available from a nearby well because the region’s Water Authority had closed it down, citing the water as undrinkable. Sidon residents have long suffered from mounting piles of trash and few options for waste disposal. The garbage crisis intensified in Sidon and its environs when the city’s landfill exceeded its capacity last year. The fire brigade in Sidon receives dozens of phone calls daily from residents asking for help with fires blazing in waste containers scattered throughout the city.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 17, 2012, on page 4.