An Alfa TV crew was in the Saraj district west of Skopje, where residents are complaining that toxic waste is being burnt somewhere in the area.

Local citizens say when the furnace hidden behind the high walls of one of the Saraj houses is likely operating, and that they feel an awful smell that spreads to the Gjorce Petrov suburb. Citizens across the western part of the city have complained at horrific fumes spreading every evening, even as the weather is unusually mild and most of the wood and coal fired furnaces used for heating are still operating at low capacity.

The smell, it’s a disaster. They are burning something, but we don’t know where it comes from, citizens told Alfa.

We can’t bring our children outside of the house in the evening, add residents in Saraj, who complain that the fumes make their throats each and eyes water.

People are worried that the cause of the pollution in this part of the cit is not from a heating furnace, but that it’s more likely an illegal site to burn chemical waste or a smelter of some kind.

Doctor Kamelija Busletic says that the situation where Skopje is constantly ranked among the five most polluted cities in the world during winter will have disastrous consequences for public health.

The instances of lung cancer and chronic pulmonary diseases are on the rise, as are those of strokes and heart attacks. More than 2.500 people die each year in Macedonia from the consequences of air pollution, Busletic said.