FireIce is dropped over the landfill.
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By SANCHESKA DORSETT
Tribune Staff Reporter
GELTECH solutions, a company that specialises in fighting fires while protecting the environment, has been contracted by the government to assist in extinguishing the massive blaze at the New Providence Landfill that has been burning for more than a week.
In an interview with The Tribune, Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett said the US based company, along with Fletcher Air, began dropping FireIce - a firefighting gel - on the sites at the landfill on Sunday, that were either too dangerous or unreachable by firefighters.
The exercise will cost the government under $80,000 and is expected to continue over the next few days.
“The product will be distributed by the air so you would have seen planes flying over the landfill,” Mr Dorsett told The Tribune. “With the few drops that have taken place so far it appears that the chemical is working and working well.
“Areas we could not see are clearly visible and so they are going to continue to do drops by air. The product will be deployed on the ground through Hydroseeders, meaning activity will take place in the air and on the ground using some of the fire retardant product. Our objective is to get the smoke out of the area. The reality is depending on where the wind shifts, the smoke shifts and impacts communities and so we are going to be working as aggressively as possible to eliminate the smoke and put out the fire.”
“This is the first time we have ever deployed aircraft to assist us in outing a fire. These are the same resources that are used in the United States for forest fires, metal fires and tyre fires and thus far it seems as though the product is working and we should be able to give a better assessment by the end of today (Monday),” Mr Dorsett added.
On Saturday, the Ministry of Works and Urban Development, as well as the Department of Housing and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) conducted an assessment of Jubilee Gardens and the areas affected Mr Dorsett said on Monday that the assessment will continue throughout the week to determine the immediate needs of persons in the area. He said an all clear will be given by Fire Chief Superintendent Walter Evans when the area is determined safe for residents to return.
“We are continuing our door to door assessment to determine the damage in the home, the soot, inside and out and the extent to which the homes need to be deodorised,” he said.
“The Department of Housing along with NEMA and Social Services will continue that assessment. As far as the all clear is involved Mr Evans and his team will make that determination.”
On March 5, a massive blaze broke out at the Harold Road landfill site, blanketing nearby communities, and in particular Jubilee Gardens, in thick, black hazardous smoke and forcing residents in that community to evacuate their homes.
Last Wednesday, Mr Dorsett said there is no definite date set for when Jubilee Gardens residents will be able to return to their homes. Initially, officials said residents would have to wait five to seven days.