By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
A MASSIVE fire broke out at the Harrold Road Landfill late Monday night, forcing some residents in nearby neighbourhoods to leave their homes and two schools to temporarily close their doors.
This is the second fire at the dumpsite in a week.
The smoke from the blaze caused some residents in Jubilee Gardens and Victoria Gardens to “pack up and leave in the middle of the night”, according to Tall Pines member of Parliament Leslie Miller.
Aquinas College closed early on Tuesday because of the “thick smoke” in the area, according to officials at the school. Classes are expected to resume today.
The Meridian School also reportedly closed early yesterday.
Renew Bahamas Chief Commercial Officer Michael Cox said he believes the fires, which spread to over 200 feet, were started intentionally, however he has no proof.
“We had a team patrolling last night (Monday), dousing the fire that started last week. At about 10.30pm they took their break and they went back around 11.15pm there was a fire on the road that takes you to the top,” Mr Cox said yesterday.
“The fire spread up the side of the road where waste was being kept. This fire is not connected to the fire from last week – that fire is out. There is no smouldering, no smoke, nothing. I believe this latest fire was an attack; I mean I have no pictures and no proof, but there is no other reason for the fire to have started.”
“At this point, the fire is still burning and the smoke is going over Victoria Gardens. We have eight trucks trying to kill the fire and the density of the smoke. Tonight we are going to run excavators and bull dozers tonight and try to get this under control.”
Residents took to social media to express their “disgust” at the recurring problem.
One Jubilee Gardens woman said: “Beware! (The) dump is on fire, thick billowy smoke, it’s bad. I had to leave home and stay at my mom’s (house). I do not know when I will be going back home. I can’t even get mad anymore, this is expected.”
Another resident said: “Woke up to smoke, again. Is this ever going to stop? Does someone have to die of smoke inhalation before the government does anything about this? I am so frustrated.”
Last night, Renew Bahamas released a statement that said the fire was “successfully contained,” but there were “still two contained hot spots burning on the approach to the final tipping zone area and producing a considerable amount of smoke.”
The statement said Renew Bahamas’ fire response team is continuing to utilise a fleet of heavy equipment, water pumps and cover material to suffocate the fire and mitigate the resulting smoke.
“This containment method approach will continue for at least the remainder of the week. Teams have been set up to work throughout the night, to have this fire extinguished in the quickest possible time,” the company said.
In early 2015, Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett expressed disgust at what he called an “ongoing problem at the landfill and an inability to identify the persons who access it to light the fires.”
Mr Dorsett said the fires would not deter the government “in any way, shape or form with respect to the reforms that we see necessary for landfills not only in New Providence, but all of the Family Islands.”
City dump fires have been a recurrent problem for years.
Renew Bahamas was engaged by the government in 2014 to manage the landfill and help address the matter.
Renew Bahamas has previously said that it believes the fires represent concentrated arson attacks on the site and its facilities.