A fire at the George Town Landfill Sunday was extinguished entirely by late afternoon, according to reports from the Cayman Islands Fire Service.
Fire crews stayed at the scene overnight to monitor the situation and ensure no flare ups occurred on the large residential trash pile where the blaze started on Sunday afternoon. Fire crews received a report of the fire at 12:48 p.m. They are expected to continue monitoring the site over the next few days.
Greyish-white smoke enveloped the area surrounding the landfill Sunday as flames broke out once again at the site. Some cars traveling along the Esterley Tibbetts Highway were visibility impeded by the smoke and had to slow down.
The Ministry of Health, in a statement issued on Monday afternoon, described the blaze as a “small surface fire,” which had been brought under control within an hour of being reported.
Sunday’s landfill fire is at least the fifth major fire to occur there since December 2013.
According to the ministry statement, “Improvements made to the management team and continuing upgrades of equipment at the Landfill have meant an ability to minimise fires and react quickly when incidents do occur.
“DEH [Department of Environmental Health] is also expecting to have its excavators, as well as D8 and D6 bulldozers in operation soon to assist with improved waste management. An essential next step will be to apply soil cover materials over the compacted waste to further lessen and prevent fires.”
The ministry said the cause of Sunday’s fire remained undetermined.
In the statement, Director of Environmental Health Roydell Carter said his staff has been using an excavator to turn over the hot waste, while water was added to extinguish and cool the waste.
“This was a surface fire that affected a small area in the landfill. Fortunately, that area was recently compacted using the new compactor unit. Due to the rapid response and compaction of the waste, the fire was quickly contained; minimising its severity,” Mr. Carter said. “It could have easily been a different situation, especially with the strong winds yesterday, so I want to commend the CIFS and DEH teams for working so hard to extinguish the land fire.”
He said Sunday’s fire showed the importance of having the right equipment operational, in this case the new compactor and a number of fire wells that were added to the site in 2014.
“Fortunately, the location of the fire was close to one of the fire wells so that crews had a continuous supply of water to fight the fire,” he said.