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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.”
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