Dump fire rages, smoke over SMB and GT

Landfill photo gallery here 

A massive fire broke out before dawn Friday at the George Town Landfill, enveloping a large swath of George Town and the Seven Mile Beach area.

Department of Environmental Health crews on the scene said flames were burning a large pile of tires and scrap metal located toward the western end of the landfill property.

Black and grey smoke billowing from the blaze could be seen as far away as Governors beach on Seven Mile. Huge plumes of smoke were blowing directly west over Cayman’s largest tourism center.

The fire was believed to have started between 3.30 a.m. and 4 a.m. No cause was given.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Craig McCoy said, by 9 a.m., fire crews had been on scene for a few hours. Mr. McCoy said flames appeared to have broken out in a pile of scrap metal and then spread to the larger tire pile.

Initial firefighting efforts were hampered when two excavators on site at the landfill had a problem and could not be used in digging up the burning piles of rubbish. During such fires, Deputy Chief McCoy said, fire crews must dig down into the mounds of trash and put out the seat of the blaze.

“Apparently, the excavators on site broke down,” Mr. McCoy said.

Another excavator was brought in to assist firefighters and a steady supply of water had been established, but Mr. McCoy said he could not put a guess on when the blaze might be under control.

“Over the years, we’ve had fires burn for days there,” he said.

There have been no injuries reported to this point.

The Ministry of Health issued the following statement on the fire around noon: “The fire appeared to start between 3:30 a.m – 4:00 a.m in the northwestern corner of the landfill site where the baled metals are stored and subsequently spread toward the area where the tires are stored. 

“The Fire Services Unit was promptly notified and Department of Environmental Health staff and fire crews responded immediately. They quickly created a fire break between the tires that had ignited and those that had not yet been reached by the fire.

“The fire has not spread to the main waste disposal areas, but has been contained in the bulk storage areas. The smoke from the fire has risen and remained at high enough levels to minimize impacts on residents and the harbour and is being carried off-shore by the prevailing winds. 

“As a result of the efforts of fire services and Department of Environmental Health staff the fire is currently under control and it is expected that it will be fully extinguished within the next four to five hours. The department is investigating the cause of the fire and apologizes to the public for any inconvenience that may have been caused by the fire.”

Please check back with www.caycompass.com for more updates through the day.


Fire crews had all they could handle Friday morning at the George Town landfill.
Photo: Tim Dailey


Guests at the Beach Suites on Seven Mile Beach got a view of the blaze Friday morning.
Photo: Norma Connolly


Black smoke that contained flames within it was blowing over the landfill area Friday morning.
Photo: Brent Fuller


Photo: Chris Court


  1. This should bring more attention on the GT Dump issues which in my opinion is being avoided because no one has any answers that will make everyone happy. Let’s see what the boys in the LA have to say about it. Burning tires are highly destructive to the environment and hard to put out, this will burn on for days if not weeks. There have been fires like this that have burned for months. Hopefully it doesn’t reach any of the other combustible materials in the dump and cause explosions which is a realistic possibility. I don’t think Caymans firefighting infrastructure is prepared to handle this if it escalates and grows.

  2. This smoke and fire does not look very good hanging over the Capital of this Island.
    I seriously think the government needs to do something about this.
    It is not my decision to say where we should have a dump, but I do believe that the residents of Cayman Islands need to seriously consider that this does not look good. It makes us look like we are still burning village bush fires. We definitely need to have a state of art dump facility put in place. We need need to revisit those thoughts again in 2014.

  3. Terrible the dump fires on Grand Cayman, but horrible, too, the dump fires on Cayman Brac that send choking smoke west on South Side toward the hotels and restaurants and peoples’ homes when the wind is blowing the wrong way. This Mini Mt. Trashmore is a fixture now on the Brac, a problem that has not been solved in the decades following choice of that particular privately-owned site for the island’s dump. There are solutions; they have not been tried. So for now, we just notify the Fire Department to put out the smouldering fires.

  4. Those are a lot of tires, why hasn’t anyone started recycling all the rubber. It can be used to do things like repave road and as Mulch even roofing shingles. I just don’t understand the lack of attention put on the GT Dump, this is a disgrace on Caymans landscape. This get ignored while so many people say preserving the enviroment is important.

  5. Mount Trashmore needs to be pushed forward and become a Priority on L.A. agenda. This dangerous dump looms high over Cayman and can be seen, clearly taller than the buildings, when viewed from the upper deck of a Cruise Ship. If this monstrosity were to explode from the built up gases, ignite and spread even more toxic fumes over Cayman, the existing fire equipment would be overwhelmed. It is a disaster waiting to happen. Like a volcano which gives a few fiery, mini eruptions before the big one, Mount Trashmore will one day erupt and Cayman will have one big, poisonous mess to clean up. But nobody seems to care…

  6. If this is the tyre dump burning you are not going to put it out with water. I remember one fire in the UK where emergency services just had to sit back, monitor it and let it burn out – that took about a month.

    I cannot believe that CIG just allow old tyres to be dumped like this. As has already been posted they can be recycled and storing them like this is not only a fire hazard but water accumulating in the tyres is an idea breeding ground for mosquitos.

    A suggestion – stick all those waste tyres in the empty containers that get shipped out of Grand Cayman to the USA and have them put to good use.

  7. I recently visited this beautiful paradise and was taken by its natural beauty, and the balance shown by not over developing this Island. I worked in waste management for over 15 years and find this to be a sad statement for any transfer station. This site with flammables, propane tanks and gas tanks, and tires in this close a proximity is asking for trouble. The carcinogens from these combustibles and the damage it causes to our planet are significant. Not to mention the equipment that is designed to help in this instance was inoperable. I would be happy to come down and see what type of help I could be in making this facility operate within safe and profitable margins. We in the States have found recycling works very effectively. Tires can be ground for road surfacing material as well as glass.

  8. How terribly pathetic!!! I was planning to arrive with four family members next weekend for a two week stay. Dollars for your economy for diving, food, restaurants, etc. However, my wife’s history of lung problems is forcing us to reconsider our trip.

    Will Cayman ever have an effective government?

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