UPDATED: 11 March, 9:50am Crews from the Cayman Islands Fire Service and the Department of Environmental Health made “good progress” overnight at the George Town landfill fire site, according to the latest update from officials.
A Government Information Service statement on the fire said, “The situation remains dynamic with varying smoke density at the site as crews continue to excavate, dampen down and cap affected areas.”
Earlier this morning, waste located close to the landfill boundary flared up during excavation of the site, after which one lane of the nearby Esterley Tibbetts Highway was closed to allow fire trucks to be deployed and the area to be doused.
“Crews were able to contain the flare up and reduce the smoke density for motorists’ safety quickly. As at 9am this morning, both lanes of the ETH are open and will remain open as long as it is safe for motorists,” the statement said.
Commenting from the scene, Chief Fire Officer Paul Walker said, “I am extremely proud of the work CIFS and DEH crews have done over the past few days under some very challenging conditions. Everyone at the scene is very grateful for the community’s support to date and ask for their continued patience as we work to resolve the situation as quickly and safely as possible.”
Officials have been holding regular strategic operation meetings over the past few days, but say that, given the progress made on site, fewer of these meetings will be required from now on. The next meeting is scheduled for 4pm today, with an update to the public released shortly thereafter.
UPDATED: 11 March, 9:10am: Both lanes of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway are now open, after a partial closure of a lane on the road this morning to accommodate firefighters tackling a section of the dump fire near the road.
The fire flared up again early on Wednesday morning near the road, but appeared to be brought under control by 9am.
Officials said the road will remain open as long as it is safe for motorists.
Check back for more updates throughout today.
George Town residents have been cleared to return to their homes as the Fire Services say personnel were successful in their efforts to suppress the smoke emanating at the landfill.
In a short statement Tuesday afternoon, Government Information Services said Chief Fire Officer Paul Walker “has given his approval for residents of Lakeside Apartments and Watlers Road to return to their homes”.
However, Walker said, as a precaution, “residents should keep doors and windows closed and are advised to monitor air conditioning units in case of smoke intake”.
Education officials also announced that the George Town Primary School, and the Transitional Unit housed at the school, will re-open on Wednesday morning. The school had been closed in Monday and Tuesday because of the fire.
On Tuesday, Cayman Islands Fire Service crews were still battling the fire that escalated Sunday at the landfill.
According to the latest statement, the crews “made good progress” in combatting the fire.
“Crews have continued to work throughout the day, along with colleagues from the Department of Environmental Health to excavate, damped down and cap the affected areas,” the statement said.
The Esterley Tibbetts Highway, which was reopened Monday night, remained open in both directions Tuesday.
“Motorists should remain vigilant while passing the landfill site and reduce speed as signed in the area,” the statement said.
Fire Service and Department of Environmental Health crews will remain on site overnight.
The next operational meeting will take place at 8am Wednesday, with an update to the public provided soon afterwards.