Fire closes public access to landfill

Smoke rises from a fire at the George Town landfill on Sunday morning. - Photo: Taneos Ramsay

Update: The George Town landfill was closed to the public Monday as firefighters and Department of Environmental Health staff continued to try to extinguish a fire that started there on Sunday morning.

“If possible, customers are advised to avoid attending the landfill until further advice is given,” the DEH said in a statement Monday.

Smoke was found coming from an area near the top of the landfill Sunday following a report that was received around 7:30am.

Mechanical excavators, pumps and hoses were being used Monday by responders who were trying to damp down the area, before hot materials were removed from the top to be spread for wetting and cooling.

The DEH said Fire Service crews remained at the landfill site overnight on Sunday “where excavations have revealed a deep-seated waste fire”.

The DEH stated, “There is no risk to public safety at this time with little or no visible smoke as response operations continue throughout today (Monday).”

It said the Fire Service crews would continue to work with the DEH to fully resolve the fire and “minimize the chance of re-ignition”.

Until those assessments are done, the DEH said, the landfill site would remain closed to customers.

“For those needing to drop off waste today (Monday), the landfill container drop-off at the front gate will remain in operation. However, whilst additional equipment and personnel are deployed to service the gate containers customers are advised to expect delays,” the DEH said.

Original story: Firefighters on Sunday battled a fire at the George Town Landfill, at least the third confirmed fire at the site this month.

There is no immediate risk to public safety, according to a government press release.

The Cayman Islands Fire Service and Department of Environmental Health crews were still monitoring the fire as of Sunday afternoon.

Smoke was found to be coming from an area near the top of the landfill following a report received around 7:30am, according to the release. Responders used mechanical excavators, pumps and hoses to damp down the area prior to removing hot materials from the top to be spread for wetting and cooling.

Small amounts of smoke could be seen from areas directly next to the site.

Fire officers also used water monitors, which are controllable, high capacity water jets, as well as thermal imaging cameras to detect hot spots.

“Although small amounts of smoke may be visible during this process there is no immediate risk to public safety at this time,” Michael Haworth, assistant director at the Department of Environmental Health, is quoted as saying.

Both the DEH and the Fire Service officers will remain on site as long as necessary to resolve the incident and minimise chances of the fire re-igniting. stated the release.

Cayman’s newly appointed interim Chief Fire Officer Paul Walker said that the fire service is reallocating resources to ensure that its ability to respond to any other occurrences across Grand Cayman is unaffected during this incident.

Members of the public are advised that the fire may affect operations at the landfill gate, as pending further excavation and damping down of the site, containers may be delayed in clearance and backed up.

Officials said Sunday’s incident was located in an area of the landfill unrelated to last week’s incident.

Fire fighters had responded to a report of smoke being detected on 10 Sept.

At the time, an assessment confirmed that smoke was visible in a small area to the rear of where the fire the week before that was located.

No naked flames were visible at that time.