There are human-garbage fires, and there are garbage-garbage fires — and the blaze at Mumbia’s Deonar landfill is the latter. The fire, which has been smoldering since January 27, is so big that NASA’s Landsat 8 satellite was able to capture its image from space. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Deonar landfill receives between one-third and three-quarters of the trash from the city of 21 million people. Firefighters and bulldozers have been fighting to contain the fire, but the air quality in Mumbai is still so bad that more than 70 schools have reportedly been closed. Residents have been tweeting photos of nearly opaque skies all week.
A spokesperson for the contractor in charge of the Deonar dump told WSJ that Mumbai’s municipal government regularly dumps more than twice the agreed-upon amount of trash into the landfill every day. The government had also promised to provide materials and funds for a waste-processing plant near the landfill, but it has yet to do so. “We were therefore forced to just receive the waste and spread it in a methodical manner without any scientific treatment,” the spokesperson said. The Mumbai Mirror reported that “three minors between the ages of 10 and 12” started the blaze.