A fire in the vehicle recycling plant at the George Town landfill on 24 Jan. was caused by sparks which occurred while a car was being crushed, according to the results of a Cayman Islands Fire Service investigation.

In a statement, a CIFS spokesperson said, “The cause of the fire was sparks from a mechanical process to break down vehicles prior to recycling which ignited waste fuel.”
The ignited waste fuel spread to “other combustible waste materials in the vicinity”.

For nearly 24 hours after the blaze erupted, the fire belched thick black smoke into the sky.

The findings of the investigation into the fire were released on Thursday.

The statement said a full multi-agency debriefing involving all relevant parties and operators had taken place. During that meeting, several fire mitigating measures have been suggested, including enhanced and maintained fire breaks across the site, and additional controls that will limit or quarantine volatile flammable waste.

Other suggestions were put forward to assist with preventative measures. They include the drilling of deep wells to improve water supply, weekly deployment of thermal imaging drones, and an overall increase in vigilance.

Since the implementation of thermal imaging drones, two deep-seated hotspots have been identified, which allowed a joint team of Department of Environmental Health workers and fire officers to deploy their new fire-fighting techniques.

“Where hotspots are identified, CIFS will work in collaboration with the DEH and other relevant agencies to excavate and damp down the area to prevent full combustion and smoke plumes from developing,” the spokesperson said.

The first deep-seated fire occurred on 10 Feb., and after two days of excavating and dampening, that fire was extinguished. Then, on Saturday, 29 Feb., a second much larger deep-seated fire was identified. That fire has since been brought under control. However, by press deadline Thursday, CIFS and DEH officials were still monitoring it.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now