Underground fire at dump


Fire fighters on Sunday continued to tackle a smoldering fire in the George Town landfill that had been discovered on Saturday morning. 

The Fire Service Department was alerted to the fire by a 911 call. When fire fighters arrived at the dump around 10.40 a.m., they found a small area at the rear of the landfill ablaze. They quickly extinguished what initially appeared to be a surface fire but upon further investigation found a smoldering deep-seated vein, according to the Fire Service Department. 

“It has been burning underneath the landfill and we just have to keep digging until we come to the end of the vein and the fire is completely out … when that is going to be, we don’t really know,” Acting Fire Chief Roy Grant told the Cayman Compass. 

Heavy equipment operators, under the direction of fire crews, worked alongside fire fighters to expose the deep-seated flames, which were then doused with water. 

Mr. Grant explained that deep-seated landfill fires can spontaneously combust and eventually make their way to the surface. 

“We are trying to make sure it does not become a major problem and not have another fire like we had in the earlier part of the year,” Mr. Grant said. 

A serious fire which took three days to extinguish broke out at the dump in February this year. This followed a blaze at the landfill in December that also took several days to put out. Both blazes sent thick plumes of smoke over neighboring areas. 

During Saturday’s fire, Mr. Grant said fire officers hooked up a trail pump to a deep water well so they had an unlimited water source to combat the fire. 

“Thankfully, because we dealt with it in this way, it would seem like we can keep it under control … for now we will keep working at it,” Mr. Grant said on Sunday. 

Mitchell Hurlston, landfill operations foreman, said the firetrucks were remaining at the scene “as a precaution and we will keep them there until we feel satisfied.” 

He added, “It is a precaution just to avoid one like the last incident we had.” 


An excavator digs through the landfill to locate the deep-seated fire as firemen douse the flames with water on Saturday. – PHOTO: JEWEL LEVY


  1. I am not sure if people living in George Town area should be concerned and worried about the dump fires.
    The reason I am asking this is because I know that when we have fires burning under ground they cause the bedrocks to crumble, become ash and slowly damage the land structure underneath.
    I remember many years ago before we had cisterns or city water. People used to take crow bars and dig deep holes make wood piles and burn the rocks down in the hole to make water wells. After the fire had burnt for a few days or sometimes weeks then water was thrown on it and the rocks which had cracked from the heat were easily removed one by one exposing a water hole. So my concern is how much underground burning can this area take before the bedrock begins to crumble and cause a caveat in the land structure. Maybe one day that piece of land crumbles and fall into the ocean underneath. Just wondering, and concerned about this constant burning of our little Island which is already a fragile sea mountain top; and of course I would not want to see this burning trap moved to anywhere else that would cause the same problem. Hope we can find a solution.

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