Fire crews monitor challenging quarry fire

| 28/09/2018 | 23 Comments
Cayman News Service

Chief Fire Officer David Hails

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Fire Service has been keeping watch on another smouldering pile, this time a waste brush fire that ignited at a quarry in Bodden Town this week at the end of Lake Destiny Drive, Bodden Town, on a  site owned by Justin Wood. Alongside the smouldering pile of shredded rubber in South Sound, fire crews have also been spending time at this fire since Tuesday night, which presented even more challenges. Fire-fighters concluded it could not be extinguished safely, so they and the site owners have been watching the blaze to ensure it is contained.

In response to inquiries from CNS, Chief Fire Officer David Hails explained that the area is a dumping ground for waste brush, trees and undergrowth, building materials, soil and other items of rubbish.

“It is approximately 300ft by 200ft and stacked about 10ft high. The materials are densely packed and the only way to attempt to extinguish it would be to pull it all apart little by little,” he said. “When the fire service arrived we observed that the flames were not very high, and as the stack is on a quarry site, there was little chance of the fire spreading to other areas. The fire was surrounded by water and open fields with no properties in the immediate area.”

Although residents between Bodden Town and Savannah would have notice the smell of smoke as it lifted into the air and thinned out, it was not posing any immediate danger.

“Based on our assessment, the decision was taken not to extinguish the fire but to keep a close watch on it as it burned down,” Hails said. “This was based on the fact that the fire posed no risk to nearby properties or residents and that there was a high risk of injury to crews and the excavator operators, as well as a likelihood of the equipment catching fire if we had attempted to extinguish it.”

He further noted that there would also have been water runoff which could have posed an environmental risk, especially for the surrounding lakes.

“The length of time it would take to extinguish a fire of this sort would have resulted in staff burnout, and tied up firefighting resources for days, in addition to resulting in an exorbitant overtime bill,” Hails said, as he confirmed that the fire was not left unattended as it burned down.

“The Frank Sound crew has been working with the site manager and officers at the Bodden Town Police station to ensure that regular checks on the site are carried out,” he added.

Checks on Thursday afternoon by CIFS personnel revealed that although the fire was still smoldering in some areas, there was no longer a naked flame and there was no threat to the public or surrounding property.

Fire personnel will continue to check on the site regularly to ensure that this situation remains under control. Since yesterday the smoke has also been dissipating before reaching properties and CIFS staff also stopped by the affordable homes, the closest residential area to the fire, and found there was no smell of smoke.

The fire service has also confirmed that it is discussing with the site manager how to prevent this happening again and has plans to meet with the site owner on the subject.

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Comments (23)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The Fire Chief’s 3 year contract ends in February.
    Who has he now trained to replace him under the terms of the much publicized contract when he was appointed?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Solid waste is ever increasing aspect of tourism. The amount of garbage generated by 2.1mil visitors includes all sources, from personal water bottles to construction debris and retail outlets, bars/restaurants etc. waste, is difficult to measure, but easy to estimate. Health impact of the decomposing or burning solid waste on Grand Cayman residents is not immediate, but unavoidable. Even if you live outside of 3miles radius from the Dump you can’t escape its toxic impact. The size of the island doesn’t allow you to move to the “greener pastures” where impact of the open air dump would be negligible. So nothing is left, but pretend that the problem doesn’t exist or won’t affect you.
    This quarry fire and the recent shredded tires fires have clearly demonstrated that escape from the garbage’ detrimental impact on human health and environment is impossible to escape. In a country where law enforcement is non existent, violations of environmental and public health protection laws are the norm.
    Neither fire would have happened if laws were enforced. Accumulation of “private” garbage wouldn’t have happened and shredded tires wouldn’t have ended up in the hands of people who have no knowledge of how to safely handle it.
    Both fires, even if not directly, are connected to the ever growing tourism.

    You can pray that the Dump never catches the fire again, or cut your losses and leave the island, if you can.
    There’s no healthy future for your children in Grand Cayman.
    Unless you believe it IS time to hold your overpayed government with its numerous ministries RESPONSIBLE.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Can you imagine if the new waste management facility was allowed to be built there?

  4. Anonymous says:

    We need to hear from the Chief Medical Officer and the Director of Environmental Health with regards to the immedicate and long term effect on the health of those who are subjected to inhaling this smoke since Tueday and now 5 days later. CNS would you please make contact with them and hear their input? I think them providing the people with a national advisory should be a must and as a matter of great urgency.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is a national emergency.
    Dioxin, once released, stays. In tissues, organs, foliage, soil, animals etc.
    You need your own Erin Brokovich badly, before you all succumb to cancer. What are you waiting for? Toxic assult on this 2×4 island is unfathomable.
    Independent testing of the most toxic chemicals in human bodies is overdue Breast milk and umbilical cords blood need to be tested as well. Then you have a case against your government for criminal negligence.
    Real Erin Brokovich has just visited SWFL- toxic algae is not a joke. Neither is dioxins and other toxic substances you are drowning in.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Look on the bright side at least there won’t be any mosquitos for a while.

  7. This hurts says:

    I was suffering from a migraine headache for two entire days and knew I smelled smoke and something more caustic. Nothing I did relieved the pain and now I know what caused the migraine. I live just before Beach Bay Road and can only imagine what those who live closer to the fire must be experiencing.

  8. satirony says:

    This dump contains plastics mixed with garden refuse and white goods, all thrown together. The poisonous fumes emitted contain Dioxin, which is one of the most toxic chemicals known to man, and which poses a dangerous health hazard. Plastics should never be burned at low temperature for this reason. In addition, the wildlife there, which includes many species of shorebirds and herons, both migratory and local, are put at risk by these pernicious poisons. I thought private dumps like this were illegal precisely because of the risk of fire and the dangerous fumes given off by the unwise mixture of dumped materials. I would feel very concerned indeed for those who live downwind of this dump and are forced to breathe in the fumes.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Staff burn out???? Do you hear yourself, sir? What about the people? The old and you and in between who are being affected day in and day out with this toxic smoke. We can’t BREATH in Bodden Town due to the smoke!!!!! Do you know this is a health hazard? Why don’t you and the owner of the quarry take up residence in one of our homes for a night and see if your lil asses can handle the smoke? This is ridiculous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed. I am in Northward and the smoke and fumes are getting worse each night. Right now as I look into the trees down the road I can clearly see there is a light fog of smoke. I can’t sit out without it affecting my throat. I really feel for those of you between me and the fire it must be so much worse for you. They should have the MRCU plane spraying water over it repeatedly. The more I read in the news these days the more depressed I get seeing what is happening all over our once beautiful island. Everyone we pay taxes for and place our trust in seems to be letting us down. Badly.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I am a resident of Lake Destiny Drive. I can attest that both my neighbors and myself is suffering immensely from the smoke. I was forced to vacate my home these several days because the smoke is causing breathing problems and skin and eyes irritation. My entire neighborhood was covered with a deep blanket of smoke for days. They tell us to keep our door and windows locked and that’s obvious but we all know that you cannot keep smoke out of your home under those circumstances, hence all my clothes and contents are contaminate by smoke. I am having to pay over $110 per night at a hotel due to someone’s negligence. They are painting a picture that it is a small vegetation fire. Why do we smell rubber and plastic mixed in smoke and why is there other debris like 5 gallon buckets etc in the heap. I assume someone lit this fire intentional. If you examine the scene you would see that the source of the fire is deep within each of the multiple piles. I am told it was so that the quarry owner could get the rocks from its piles to reuse. At the end of the day it is us poor people suffering and all we are being told is to lock our doors! Why should the people suffer due to someone’s negligence?! The government needs to start enforcing their laws as I am examining my legal rights to recover damages.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you have ever been back there you would know. It’s not just vegetation. It’s one of the many dumping grounds across the island. I see the land by the lake on Newlands bypass is piling up again too with similar materials.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am extremely sensitive to many chemicals, paints,glues and a smoke of any kind. Some glues and aerosols paints are so toxic I ended up in a hospital twice when my landlord was “patching and painting” leaks. I did spent one night in a hotel, didn’t expect that next day little “touch-up” would send me with sirens on to a hospital again.

      Get out, rent a hotel, then submit bills for reimbursement. There is only one thing of value–OUR HEALTH. Once it’s gone, nothing else matters.

  11. Mike says:

    Why not using option of foam to totally smother it and cut off air supply? Environmentally best option.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because the foam would be harmful to the environment as well Mikey Boy. The article did state that allowing it to burn itself out is the best option.

      • Anonymous says:

        So we all have to choke? I am not kidding you as God is my witness. This is far worse than reported. The smoke is not dissipating over here the smoke smell is getting worse each night. Tonight I cannot sit in my yard after work. All I can smell and breathe is smoke. My throat is sore and eyes are getting grittier the longer I am sat here. Going inside. Again. I live just before Northward. Glad I moved from BT. Heads should roll for this.

      • Anonymous says:

        Lol. Harmful to environment whilst poisioning hundreds of people on other hand.There is no win.But the truth is, the owner of quarrry should be held accountable and be required by law to place those people affected directly in alternative accomodation.

      • Mike says:

        I hear you 5.11 pm, BUT, read the posts from people living in the area. People are suffering because of the smoke. What is the estimated time to burn off naturally, and can people tolerate it that long?

  12. say it like it is says:

    Is creating your own dump permitted by law?. Presumably the landowner is charging for all this garbage to be dumped in his quarry but what about the effects on the underlying water table.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Thank you fire service if only the private sector would get its act together we would really reduce the cost of government..

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