Residents of Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac are no strangers to landfill fires, with firefighters responding to more than 30 flare-ups at the islands’ dumps each year.
Not all of these fires look like the one at the landfill Friday. In fact, very few ever reach that stage.
However, according to the Cayman Islands Compendium of Statistics, there were 39 dump fires recorded in 2012, and 40 recorded in 2011.
The last major landfill fire was in April 2011, and it also sent large plumes of smoke into the George Town area.
The Cayman Brac landfill was the scene of a large fire in June 2012. Cayman Brac Fire Services Sub-Officer Curtis Connor said the fire started in a pile of mulch, trees and wood away from the main dump, where fires usually combust.
Mr. Connor said he did not think the fire started spontaneously, as happens with some dump fires due to a buildup of gases and chemicals.
Other massive landfill fires in recent years were reported by the Caymanian Compass:
April 2011: A smoky fire at the George Town landfill that broke out in the early morning hours was said to be under control, but it sent billowing clouds over much of town for several hours.
June 2010: A fire broke out at the Cayman Brac landfill and was not controlled until the next day.
August 2008: There were two fires at the George Town landfill during this month. The larger blaze hit a pile of residential trash, the smaller one burned some wood pallets that the Department of Environmental Health had intended to use as fire retardant.
May 2008: This large blaze broke out around midday in a residential trash heap in the center of the dump.
July 2007: Flames were first reported in mid-afternoon and were not be extinguished until the next day. Crews had to be evacuated from a section of the landfill for safety reasons because the fire covered such a large area.