Rural Waikato residents furious at ongoing plastic waste fire

A landfill fire near a small rural Waikato town has sparked a ferocious war between neighbours.

The deep-seated blaze in Pukemiro, north of Hamilton, has been going for weeks.

Toxic smoke from burning bales of waste plastic is wafting all around the Puke Coal landfill and locals say they're trapped in their homes.

"It's been hell on earth really," local Peggy Molloman says.

"They don't seem to think our health is worth anything," Pukemiro resident Bill Rosoman says.

Their homes line either side of the Puke Coal Landfill which has been on fire for more than two weeks.

The plastic within the fire makes the smell and smoke even more debilitating.

"It was like this big black cloud came down through the valley," community member Noel Bennett says.

While the smoke was tolerable for residents on Tuesday, the community lives at the mercy of the wind.

"If we get an easterly, we're done. We're done," Molloman says.

When local Antonette Tauauraki feels the wind change, she races to beat the smoke.

"You gotta run inside, lock your house up and stay inside," she says.

But Molloman, who suffers from asthma, says she has been tempted to just leave town altogether.

"There were a couple times there that I just felt like crying and running out of the house."

Bennett agrees, and says the health risk is scary.

"I have cancer of the throat, cancer of the oesophagus, the last thing I want to be is breathing this crap from somebody who doesn't care," he says.

Puke Coal owner John Campbell did not want to appear on camera. He says his company did not start the fire, but he is doing everything he can to completely smother it and control hot spots.

The Waikato Regional Council shares the community's concerns and Puke Coal has now been served a formal abatement notice to put the fire out.

"I just want my life back, where I can breathe in fresh air," Molloman says.

Which is the reason she moved out to the country in the first place.