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Low health risk for residents near Feilding fire

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MidCentral District Health Board public health officials are advising property owners near a large rubbish fire on the outskirts of Feilding to disconnect their roof water supply.

There was no significant health risk from smoke released by the fire, which was called into Horizons Regional Council’s pollution hotline on Thursday evening, and attended to by Fire and Emergency New Zealand and Horizons’ compliance officers, MidCentral Medical Officer of Health Dr Robert Weir said.

He said eight properties in the area of the Halcombe Rd fire were advised to disconnect rainwater tank supplies until further notice and close their windows to prevent smoke entering their homes.
These residents have been provided with information on health risks and water supply issues.

Fire and Emergency NZ have advised that they will leave the fire to burn itself out due to the complexity of the fire and associated environmental risks from extinguishing the fire.

The fire burning itself out would be highly unlikely to pose a health risk to the public, Weir said.

“There is a possibility that wind changes over the next few days may cause the smoke plume to drift over the township of Feilding. This may create some anxiety and concern for residents.

“Smoke from a fire may irritate the eyes, nose, throat and airways. Symptoms can include runny or sore eyes, dry or sore throat, sore nose, cough, tightness of the chest or difficulty breathing.

“Smokers, the elderly, children, and those with heart disease, asthma or other lung disease are at greatest risk of harm from smoke inhalation. These people need to avoid exposure if possible. They should seek medical help if their symptoms worsen and do not respond to their usual measures, or if they experience breathlessness or chest pain.”

In healthy people, most symptoms would disappear soon after the exposure to smoke ended, Weir said.

If symptoms persist, call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for free 24-hour health advice, or visit your doctor.

Horizons Regional Council Regulatory Manager Greg Bevin said the landowner had a consent for clean fill, however, a significant pile of non-clean fill had caught fire.

“Horizons has issued the landowner an abatement notice, and further investigation will be undertaken.”

Contact: MidCentral DHB Communications Unit (06) 350-8945

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