Firefighters and rescue teams are struggling to put out a fire that has been ablaze since Wednesday afternoon at Chennai’s Perungudi landfill, a corporation official said, The Indian Express reported.

The fire, which started on Wednesday at 3 pm, became a cause of worry for residents of neighbouring areas.

“More than the fire, the smoke is causing suffocation,” an unidentified official of the Greater Chennai Corporation told the newspaper. “Even the firefighters are facing difficulties.”

Due to land breeze, the teams were facing difficulties in controlling the fire, the official added.

A total of nine fire tenders and rescue officers from neighbouring Thoraipakkam and Velachery were at the area to extinguish the flames. Two metro tankers were also pressed into service.

Videos and photos of the fire posted on social media showed a thick cloud of smoke billowing out of a huge mountain of rubbish.

In a video shot on Thursday morning by AM Aravind, a birdwatcher in Chennai, the fire could be seen raging at the site.

“It is the nesting season of many species of birds which are residents of Pallikaranai Marsh, and they are all going to be affected,” he wrote on Twitter. “Hope the fire is put off soon.”

Pallikaranai wetland, which is located close to the Perungudi landfill, is an ecologically-sensitive spot and it attracts several species of birds.

Chennai Corporation Deputy Commissioner (Health) Manish S Narnaware and other officials were present at the site on Thursday to monitor the firefighting operation.

Chennai Deputy Mayor Mahesh Kumar also visited the landfill on Thursday morning.

“We have taken steps to ensure the fire doesn’t spread,” Kumar said, reported The Indian Express. “We will discuss with the fire department, and put in a word to the mayor and ministers to set up a permanent fire service station here.”

Kumar added that the firefighting teams were ensuring the fire does not spread to the Pallikaranai wetland.

About 2,000 tonnes of wet waste on an average is dumped at the landfill everyday, according to The Indian Express.

While authorities were yet to ascertain the cause of the fire, an unidentified corporation official said the methane inside the dumpyard could be aggravating the flames.

“We are spraying water in the nearby area so that the wetness will keep the flames from spreading to nearby areas,” said M Ponnusamy, fire officer from Thoraipakkam, The New Indian Express reported. “The fire will be doused before Thursday afternoon.”

In another incident, a huge fire broke out at north Delhi’s Bhalswa landfill on Tuesday. This was less than a month after another major blaze at the National Capital’s Ghazipur landfill.