Residents of a small village in south central Poland evacuated their homes Sunday afternoon when fire broke out at an illegal landfill suspected of being used as a chemical waste dump.
Authorities brought in a special mobile laboratory to monitor air quality as thick, dark smoke filled the sky above Nowiny, population 120, local media report. Meanwhile, firefighters suffocated the flames using a large supply of fire foam.
An official with the provincial government denied media reports of a chemical emergency. However, the country’s deputy minister for climate and chief inspector for environmental protection responded to the fire scene.
The chief inspector, Pawel Ciecko, stated that about 300 such landfills operate in Poland due to lax regulations. The landfill in Nowiny had previously been cited for illegal waste when nearly 1,300 containers and 960 pallets with barrels were discovered there, Polskie Radio reports.
Courts sentenced the owner of the company using the landfill to 15 months in prison, Polskie Radio reports.