Residents of Naples have begun burning heaps of garbage that have piled up for more than a week, adding potentially toxic smoke to the area's stinky air, officials said Monday.

Mounds of trash have reached as high as 10 feet in some places and blocked entire streets. Collectors had stopped hauling it away because they have nowhere to take it.

The southern Campania region — home to the luxurious Amalfi Coast but also to the slums of Naples — has been plagued by garbage crises in recent years. Dumps fill up, and local communities block efforts to build new ones or create temporary storage sites. In 2004, the garbage crisis prompted weeks of protests.

This time, fire brigades said they extinguished more than 150 fires in and around Naples overnight, believed set by residents trying to dispose of the trash. The burning of chemicals has added to the already putrid smell of garbage decomposing in the sun.

The government recently approved construction of more dumps in the area, but there have been delays in getting them operational.

Last week, the respected head of the Italian Civil Protection department, Guido Bertolaso, resigned amid infighting about what to do.

Premier Romano Prodi refused to accept the resignation Monday, officials said.