While fire and Department of Environment crews have said they continue to see success in their fight to douse the blaze at the landfill, they warn there may be more flares of smoke.
Chief Fire Officer Paul Walker, in a statement issued Wednesday night, said residents of Lakeside, Watlers Road and the immediate vicinity of the landfill site are advised to keep windows, doors and air conditioning vents closed as a precaution.
“As hotspots are exposed through excavation, there may be a flare of smoke. Every effort is made by fire officers to reduce this as quickly as possible. Smoke density will vary as crews work through this process, however overall levels have continued to reduce as the area is capped,” the statement said.
The smoke at the site has reduced significantly.
The National Roads Authority, a Government Information Service statement said, has also been on site providing operational vehicle support to accelerate progress.
“A systematic approach of excavation and damping down is helping crews work towards full extinguishment of the fire. Once doused, this is followed by capping the area to minimise the chance of re-ignition,” it added.
DEH, the statement said, will shift its focus to begin testing air quality in the area at the public’s request once the fire has been fully extinguished.
“The test measures levels of CO and CO2 which can be present in the air even after the fire has been extinguished. This test cannot be accurately assessed while smoke is present due to the sensitivity of the equipment,” it said.
The next operational meeting on efforts to douse the fire will be held Thursday morning.
Cayman’s firefighters on Wednesday continued for a fourth day to grapple with fire at the George Town landfill, which made its way to the boundary line near the Esterley Tibbetts Highway on Wednesday morning.
While flames were no longer visible at the site, white smoke hung over the landfill and the communities in its vicinity.
Early Wednesday morning, firefighters closed off one of the highway’s two southbound lanes while they dampened pockets of fire near the roadway.
A Government Information Services statement said that the “waste located close to the landfill boundary flared up during excavation of the site. The decision was quickly made to close one lane of the highway to allow fire trucks to be strategically deployed and the area to be doused.”
It said crews contained the flare-up and reduced the smoke density for motorists’ safety quickly. It was reopened at 9am.
On Tuesday night, residents who had been evacuated from Lakeside Apartments and Watlers Drive were allowed to return to their homes, but some opted not to do so.
Infrastructure Minister and George Town North MLA Joey Hew, in an interview Wednesday, thanked the crews working on the fire.
Hew said he evacuated his own family from his home on Sunday, but he remained at the landfill site and in the Watlers Drive community all night Sunday to monitor the fire.
“My residence is less than a half a mile away from the landfill and right in the path of the smoke. And so … it has been forefront in my mind each day. I am working closely with the government, the fire department, and the DEH management team to ensure that they are doing everything in their power to reduce the amount of smoke that we have been enduring for the last couple of days,” he said.
Hew, like Premier Alden McLaughlin on Monday, expressed remorse for the situation.
“It has been difficult, and my heart goes out to those who have been displaced and those who continue to deal with the effects of this smoke, but hopefully we are at the end,” Hew said.
He added that residents can go to the Red Cross shelter should they need accommodation if the smoke flares overnight.
Firefighters and the Department of Environmental Health have “made good progress”, according to a GIS statement.
However, it said, the situation “remains dynamic with varying smoke density” at the site as crews continue to excavate, dampen down and cap affected areas.
Chief Fire Officer Paul Walker lauded those who continue to battle the fire that escalated Sunday following high winds, and added, “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.”