By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
A FIRE at the City Dump, which yesterday intensified into a huge blaze creating thick, toxic smoke in the area off Tonique Williams-Darling Highway, might have been intentionally started, authorities said.
Residents in the surrounding communities, including the Tall Pines constituency, complained of the environmental hazard posed by the billowing smoke which could be seen for miles.
They also expressed frustration with the frequency with which fires break out at the City Dump.
One resident of the area called the City dump “a poor way to deal with our waste.”
“This is not a landfill, this is a garbage dump,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller used the opportunity to once again call for more recycling.
“We need to look into recycling and reusing these things rather than just bringing it here,” he said.
In a press statement, Minister of Environment and Housing Kenred Dorsett, said: “Initial reports lead us to suspect that tyres were intentionally lit in the early morning hours.”
Fire Chief Walter Evans said authorities received reports about the blaze not long after they had extinguished an unconnected fire at the City Dump early Friday morning.
He said when they arrived on the scene shortly after 7am, authorities found a mountain of burning tyres separated from other debris.
Heavy duty tractors from the Department of Environmental Services assisted firemen in extinguishing the fire, he said, later adding: “The fire has dissipated and is no longer in the free burning phase. It is now in the smouldering phase.”
Although he added that the fire “could be in the smouldering phase for probably another day or two,” Deputy Director of Environmental Services Thomasina Wilson said the fire could be in that stage for another three to five days before being fully extinguished.
“It’s a lot of oils, petroleum and stuff in tyres,” she said.
Noting that the wind seemed to be directing the smoke from the fire over to the northern section of the island, she said: “Nothing can be done about that.”
Describing the fire as “intense,” she added: “Anytime you have rubber burning like this, it takes three to five days to actually get it out.”
She said authorities are “soaking the fire from the bottom,” hoping that it will “eventually burn itself out.”
Mr Evans added that although yesterday’s fire might have been bigger than other fires at the City Dump in the last few years, it is unlikely that the fire will smoulder on for weeks like previous ones did.
“This may have been bigger than the other ones, but the depth of the other ones was significantly greater. They were taking place underground. We don’t anticipate that this will be burning underground,” he said.
Mr Evans said authorities have not yet identified an official cause for the fire.
He also explained that in trying to extinguish the fire, firemen had to pay specific attention to an electrical high power line which comes from the Clifton power station.
Mr Evans said firemen were “alerted to the importance of that line and how it services the nearby areas.”
“If that line was disrupted,” he said, “a significant number of areas in the southern Bahamas might have been adversely affected.”
“We deployed a unit to ensure the fire did not compromise the integrity of that line or disrupt services,” he added.