Fire Service says residents were safe from quarry fire

Cayman Fire Chief David Hails and Fire Officer Roy Charlton tour the burning vegetation in Bodden Town in September. – Photo: Jewel Levy

A quarry fire in Bodden Town that smoldered for several weeks was never a risk to residents in the surrounding areas, according to the Cayman Islands Fire Service.

The Fire Service stated that when the fire was first reported on Sept. 25, officers found no sign of smoke during extensive checks of the nearest residential area. Local residents had raised concerns about the smoke and fumes emanating from the smoldering site.

The Fire Service explained that it did not try to extinguish the fire because there was significant risk to both officers and plant operators, due to the substantial size of the smoldering piles, as well as their contents, which included aerosol containers. In addition, the vast amounts of water necessary to extinguish the fire would have resulted in contaminated water entering nearby ponds.

“For all these reasons, the Fire Service opted to manage the incident by focusing on monitoring the site of the fire, working with site owner to ensure that the fire could be extinguished once it was safer to do so, and that it met fire safety standards thereafter, as well as making regular visits to the Lake Destiny neighbourhood to assess the impact of any smoke,” the Fire Service stated.

The fire was extinguished on Oct. 18, according to the Department of Environmental Health. The Fire Service also stated that there was never any black smoke observed from the fire, which would have implied the presence of a carbon-based fuel source, such as tires or gasoline.

The Fire Service added that while the fire was burning, unknown individuals continued to use the site as an illegal dumping ground.

“In addition to breaching the law, this practice constitutes a hazard for nearby communities but also for firefighters,” the Fire Service stated. “We urge all persons to follow established procedures for the disposal of waste.”