Traffic warning as smoke continues to billow into sky amid fire at waste facility in Auckland's Onehunga

A fire at a waste facility in Auckland is still pumping out smoke sixteen hours after it started on Wednesday afternoon.  

It comes as firefighters have been working through the night to get the blaze under control. 

The huge fire at the Green Gorilla waste processing facility on Victoria St in the suburb of Onehunga has been burning since about 1pm on Wednesday, with the fire starting in a large pile of rubbish undercover that spread rapidly.  

Smoke billowing out into the sky on Thursday morning.
Smoke billowing out into the sky on Thursday morning. Photo credit: Newshub

Commuters are being warned to expect heavy congestion on State Highway 20 and in the areas of Onehunga and Māngere 

Neilson St in Onehunga is closed in the westbound direction between Alfred Street and Galway Street. 

In an update at 10am, FENZ said eight fire crews including two ladder trucks and support staff are at the scene of the blaze.

Helicopters stopped flying at around 8:15pm on Wednesday evening but ground crews worked on rotation through the night to attempt to extinguish the deep-seated fire.

Assistant Commander Mike Manning said despite progress being made overnight to extinguish the fire, it remains contained but still burning.

"Our crews will be continuing the work throughout the day, with our focus on using heavy machinery to dig through the burning timber and waste pile," Manning said.

Despite claims by Green Gorilla chief executive Elaine Morgan that firefighters didn't have enough water on Wednesday to fight the blaze, FENZ said that wasn't true.

"The water supply is adequate for our operations," FENZ said.

Helicopters are not operating at the fire on Thursday, but Urban Search and Rescue drones will be at the site heat mapping hot spots with thermal imaging.

"We ask anyone flying a drone in the area to ground it so our drones can operate," Manning said.

Reporter Emma Olsen told AM on Thursday morning from the site of the blaze that firefighters are continuing to work tirelessly to put out the blaze.   

"It is contained but as you'll see behind me smoke is continuing to billow into the air across Onehunga," Olsen said.   

"As soon as we stepped out of our car this morning, which was at least 500m away, the smell of smoke was incredibly potent... if you're in the neighbouring communities the advice is to keep your doors and windows shut." 

People affected by the smoke should close their windows and doors and contact Healthline if they are concerned about their health, FENZ said. 

At its peak, there were more than 80 staff working on the fire but aerial firefighting efforts were hampered by a drone flying near the fire.  

Map shows drone flight restrictions around Auckland fire.
Map shows drone flight restrictions around Auckland fire.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) warned those in Onehunga who were flying drones must stop - as it poses a serious threat and could end in a disaster.  

A drone was flown over the scene earlier in the day on Wednesday and the operator was quickly located.   

"The drone was landed so that took care of that problem," FENZ assistant commander Shaun Thornton told Newshub on Wednesday.    

It's currently not known how the fire started but police say no injuries have been reported.   

Footage from the scene on Wednesday showed large flames and a huge amount of smoke billowing into the sky.  

In a statement, Green Gorilla chief executive Elaine Morgan said the cause of the fire was under investigation.   

"At Green Gorilla, the safety of our community, employees and the environment remains our utmost priority. I want to reassure everyone that no one has been harmed as a result of this incident.   

"We are working in partnership with FENZ and Auckland City Council to respond to the fire and mitigate any potential impacts on the community and environment.   

"Please follow the advice and guidance provided by FENZ to ensure your safety and minimise any potential risks associated with the fire.   

"I want to extend my deepest gratitude to the dedicated Green Gorilla staff for their swift response to the fire incident. Through their adherence to safety protocols and best practices, we have thankfully avoided any injuries."