Amid a scorching heat wave, a landfill in New Delhi, India spontaneously caught fire, spewing toxic smoke into the air for three days straight, according to ABC News.
This is no ordinary landfill. According to ABC, the dump is more of a mountain of trash, taller than a 17-story building and wider than 50 football fields. (So, a garbage pile over 240 feet or 73 meters high and over 15,000 feet or 4,572 m long.) Video taken from a nearby road and shared on reddit on Tuesday (April 26) shows a towering inferno spewing toxic smoke into the air, as hordes of motorists stop traffic to enjoy the spectacle.
The fire reportedly started due to the spontaneous combustion of methane (CH4), a powerful greenhouse gases released by decomposing organic matter, as well as occurring naturally underground. (See Turkmenistan “gates of hell” to get an idea of what happens when natural methane catches fire).
Related: Has the Earth been this hot before?
delhi_bypass_fire_in_garbage_mountain from r/delhi
When methane reaches a certain concentration, it can spontaneously explode in the presence of heat, studies have shown. Sadly, that means landfill fires like this are a common thing.
“There is a fire every year,” Bhairo Raj, a waste worker who lives next to the dump, told ABC. “It’s not new. There is risk to life and livelihood, but what do we do?”
Three other dumps around New Delhi have also caught fire in recent weeks, ABC reported. The landfill where the most recent fire started was planned to close more than a decade ago, but more than 2,300 tons (2,086 metric tons) of garbage is added to the dump every day, according to ABC.
It is almost certain that these methane explosions were caused by the intense heat that has hit India in recent weeks. Last month was India’s hottest March on record in over 100 years, al-jazeera reported, and April has offered no respite. On Friday (April 29), temperatures topped 114 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius) in several cities across the country, the Indian Meteorological Department informed.
Around the world, summer heat waves have become more common and more severe in recent years due to man-made climate change. Live Science previously reported. July 2021 was the hottest month in recorded history, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.
Originally published on Live Science.