FAMILIES living beside a dump fire that cannot be put out were forced to leave their homes yesterday after smoke from the blaze spread.
Kildare County County branded the fire at the abandoned Kerdiffstown dump at Naas as "an environmental emergency".
At least two families living near the dump moved to alternative accommodation as the smoke began to enter their houses and last night others were considering the situation.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) was carrying out air quality tests as fears over pollution grew among residents.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), HSE, local council, defence forces and gardai met yesterday to co-ordinate actions to deal with the fire. In a statement issued last night the EPA said the agencies agreed a series of responses to the situation including security of the site and firefighting.
An expert group set-up to develop a rapid and safe method of dealing with the fire will meet this morning.
According to the statement, the indications were that the burning material consists of mainly wood materials with about 10pc plastic. The fire has been raging in a mountain of illegal waste for more than a week, with smoke billowing across the N7 Dublin to Cork road.
A meeting was held yesterday afternoon between Environment Minister Eamon O Cuiv and Kildare deputies. Mr O Cuiv has also requested a meeting with the Kildare county manager, his spokesman said later.
Labour TD Emmet Stagg described the situation as an environmental disaster and called on the minister to release funds immediately to deal with the emergency.