Fire plagues dump again

A massive fire broke out at the George Town Landfill around noon Monday sending plumes of white smoke miles into the sky and forcing firefighters to spend about 12 hours extinguishing the flames.

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A firefighter tries to keep flames at the George Town Landfill under control Monday afternoon. Photo: Brent Fuller

Senior fire service officials said the blaze had been put out by early Tuesday morning after about 20 firefighters responded to control the situation.

No one was hurt.

A cause for the fire was not immediately available. But fire crews said they believed some material in that section of the landfill, which is used to process residential waste, had somehow spontaneously combusted.

A smaller fire had broken out at the landfill just a few weeks ago, but fire service officials said they doubted Monday’s blaze was caused by the smouldering remains from that incident. The fire that broke out earlier had occurred in roughly the same area.

‘That’s always a possibility, but it’s hard to say that,’ said Assistant Director of Environmental Health Sean McGinn.

Mr. McGinn said the white smoke emanating from the pile of trash indicated most of the flames were on the surface and had not become deep-seated within the mound.

However, fire crews said excavators had to be brought in to dig up certain areas of the waste to make sure flames had not spread.

The last major fire to occur at the landfill happened on 31 July. Again, firefighters were forced to stay on the scene for about 12 hours before flames were extinguished.

That fire also broke out in the section used to process residential garbage.

In December 2004, another landfill fire took two days to extinguish. That blaze was again blamed on spontaneous combustion.

Another huge landfill fire happened on 15, November 2002. It started on Friday night and burned through Monday afternoon.

Fire officials have said previously that the Department of Environmental Health has taken steps to attempt to prevent such landfill fires from breaking out, such as examining loads of residential trash that are brought in to make sure items like burning coals are extinguished.

Former Chief Fire Officer Roy Grant said last year that a landfill as large as the one in George Town is always going to be a fire risk.

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