Baha Mar stands in the foreground as a tower of smoke rises behind it after the latest fire at the Harrold Road Landfill.
Photo: Heather Carey
By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
ANOTHER massive fire at the Harrold Road Landfill broke out late Sunday night, this latest blaze damaging some of Renew Bahamas’ waste management equipment, officials said yesterday.
Thick plumes of black smoke could be seen rising from the area yesterday.
Gerhard Beukes, president of Renew Bahamas, said officials are “very concerned” about the potential damage to equipment as a result of the fire. He said Renew Bahamas officials were seeking to “protect the assets and try to get the fire out as soon as possible” before performing a damage assessment.
However, Mr Beukes noted that the fire was actually not on the landfill, but on an area Renew Bahamas officials have been using as a “temporary tipping area” to divert vehicles while they prepare the top of the actual landfill that was damaged from the previous fires.
Fire Chief Walter Evans, present at the site yesterday, said the fire was “pretty much” under control and contained, but said smoke suppression could take “a couple of days” due to the number of items that are burning. However, he said “every effort” is being made jointly between Renew Bahamas and the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) to “ensure that we have this fire extinguished within the shortest possible time.”
Yesterday’s fire marked the third at the dumpsite in three weeks.
According to Mr Beukes, the fire started at around 11.30pm Sunday. He said a crew, equipment and water pump were immediately mobilised in order to battle the blaze. However, he said the blaze was “aggressive” and, coupled with a “northerly wind”, managed to spread to the area “immediately next to the recycling plant.”
“Ironically there’s not a puff of smoke coming out of the landfill at the moment,” he said yesterday. “The area where the fire is at the moment is on the side of the landfill, at the foot of the landfill that we’ve been using as a temporary tipping area where we’ve diverted vehicles while we’re preparing the top of the landfill after the other fires.”
Mr Beukes could not say just what started the fire, however, but said the matter would be investigated “thoroughly” to avoid speculation.
“I think at the moment we’re just very concerned about the damage to the equipment and obviously the extreme discomfort that this will cause to the residents in surrounding areas,” he said. “So I think for now what we’re trying to do is just to make sure that we try to protect the assets and try to get the fire out as soon as possible.”
When questioned about the damage his company’s equipment sustained, he said: “We suspect that there has been some damage; we’re not too sure yet. Once we’ve got the blaze under control then we’ll be able to make an assessment.”
Supt Evans said efforts are now being made by Renew Bahamas and RBPF officials to extinguish the blaze and prevent it from spreading.
“The fire is pretty much under control, it’s already in a contained area,” Supt Evans added. “But due to the number of items which are burning, there’s a number of items which are burning deep in heaps, so we have to ensure that we are able to minimise the amount of heat and to stop the fire from going into other areas.”
Of the smoke suppression, Supt Evans said: “...That may take a couple days. It depends on the amount of heat and amount of resources that have been deployed. But every effort is being made right now jointly between Renew (Bahamas) and the Royal Bahamas Police Force to ensure that we have this fire extinguished within the shortest possible time.”
Three weeks ago, a massive fire broke out at the dumpsite, forcing some residents in nearby neighbourhoods to leave their homes and two schools to temporarily close their doors. It marked the second fire in one week at the time.
Renew Bahamas was engaged by the government in 2014 to manage the landfill and help address the recurring fires.