Gridlock on roads as dump fire rages

| 25/03/2021 | 75 Comments

(CNS) UPDATED 12:30pm: The West Bay Road was at a standstill Thursday lunchtime, as southbound traffic on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway was diverted. Thick plumes of smoke continued billowing from the fire, where fire crews are trying to tackle the blaze from four points of attack using defensive firefighting tactics and safe systems of work. Officials said the fire was confined to the metals area but it was also clear at the scene that some of the dry debris was engulfed by the flames. Following the evacuation of the Cayman International School, officials also advised that residents, such as those at the Lakeside Apartments and nearby businesses, should close all windows and turn off the air-conditioning.

The major fire broke out at the George Town landfill at around 9:40 this morning and fire crews continue to work with the Department of Environmental Health. Some firefighters were scheduled to take part in an aviation rescue exercise around Crewe Road this morning and it has not yet been confirmed if the personnel on the simulation exercise have been diverted to the dump.

Given the prevailing winds, the smoke was drifting throughout the morning towards the school and across the Esterley Tibbetts Highway. By 12 noon, the southbound carriageway on the ETH was closed and traffic was being diverted, causing gridlock on the West Bay Road, despite this week being ‘no car week’.

The fire comes in the wake of a number of smaller fires recently ignited on the main area of Mount Trashmore that is still in use, which were said to have been caused by crushed lithium batteries. However, it has been around a year since the last major fire. The current blaze is significant, engulfing the scrap metal pile with smoke billowing across the West Bay Road and Seven Mile Beach area.

Over the last few weeks, government has made numerous hints about an announcement regarding the long-awaited solution to address the many issues with the dump and waste-management in general. And in a clear coincidence, on Thursday morning GIS issued a press call for a briefing about the waste management project at 2pm on Friday.

In October 2017, DECCO, Dart’s contractor, was selected as the preferred bidder to deal with the dump, including introducing a waste-to-energy facility, but no deal has been signed, although the islands’ largest investor has been capping the existing waste pile.

Responding to today’s blaze in a local chat group among his Red Bay constituents, Alden McLaughlin said, “What is burning is mainly old cars. They should be able to get it under control fairly quickly. Most of the landfill is now covered with aggregate and should not ignite.”

The fire has now been raging for around three hours, and speaking to the media at the scene, Joey Hew, the MP for George Town North, also down played concerns about the fire spreading. He added that “tremendous strides” had been made on managing the landfill.

Check back to CNS later for more on the fire, which is currently raging fiercely and clearly posing challenges for crews.

See CNS reader’s video of the fire below:

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Category: Environmental Health, Health, Local News

Comments (75)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Alden did say that it would be the next government problem…not his…what a pussy.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So embarrassing that we have had this happen AGAIN!!! Oh well, I guess one thing about the borders still being closed is there were no tourists to witness this shitshow.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I pray for the fireman and the one pushing the bulldozer and the police who responded. People complain about their time off or their salaries, but you couldn’t pay me to be standing in the middle of those flames and all that smoke. Thankfully, so far, no one has been injured….hopefully their lungs are well protected.

    • Anonymous says:

      The one next to the raging fire wasn’t wearing any protective clothing and equipment. I guess this is normal for Cayman.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Saving people from Covid so they would die from cancer.

    And the medal for the most idiotic, mind boggling comment goes to 11:40. He should be awarded with a year long trip to Chernobyll

    But may be the entire population on this rock is mentally challenged, for they have been putting up with CIG’ bs for nearly 50 years.

    I only feel sorry for children. Especially those attending the international school.

    I felt bad for the Lakeview residents. Nor anymore. They didn’t move a finger to standup for themselves after the last year fire. Maybe they like smoky flavor of their lives.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s fools like you why nothing has been done whilst persons like me with children at CIS have to put up with ineptitude!

      It’s been 50+ years of failures.

      Rgds, FED-up

      • Anonymous says:

        It is fools like you who sacrifice children’s health by taking them to CIS.

        I left Cayman in 2011. My 2 girls thrive in pristine Finland. My husband left last year.

        • Anonymous says:

          I can see why he left.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yet you’re still following Cayman news.
          I miss it too.

        • Anonymous says:

          Sounds like you miss Cayman though..Not all of us re as wealthy and mobile as you. We have to live with it and hope and pray for the best.

          Rubbing it in our face about your fabulous life in pristine Finland isn’t necessary.

    • Anonymous says:


      You should feel bad for having that view on Lakeside residents – Chernobyl would be light punishment for idiots with your attitude.

      Children also live there.


    • Anonymous says:

      Actually it is quite nice in Chernobyl today. Nature thrives without homo-stupids! Rivers full of fish. Forest full of animals. Paradise!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Make Lakeside great again!

    • Anonymous says:

      I remember when they built Lakeside. Anyone who bought a property there must be nuts. Anybody remember the fire during the construction caused by non-code insulation?

  6. Anonymous says:

    It has NEVER taken me less time to get from the Airport to Governors Square than today. Easy breezy through Ace and ALT roundabout. ABSOLUTELY clear northbound lanes on the bypass.

    Of course due to the fire and the emergency vehicles causing the southbound lanes to be closed, my 7-8 minute drive will take folks hours heading the opposite direction today.

    Our divided highways do not suit our purposes.

    If there was a gated, emergency crossover on every divided road, every 400-500 yards, whenever there was a bad accident, or the next fire like this, you could open the gate, cross between lanes, and share the roadway.

    Had there been an emergency pass between Lakeside and ALT, The northbound lanes could be reduced to single lane, some pylons placed on the lines, the regiment to wave yellow flags to reduce speed, and the southbound traffic could share the northbound lane and people could actually get home today.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well we know you are NOT a born Caymanian. WTH do you think coming up with solutions??

      Just imagine thinking ahead like this! That is a brilliant idea. I have seen it in several US cities to change traffic flow for peak travel times. Can’t imagine why no one in Cayman thought of it. Maybe because they haven’t lived anywhere but here, some even never leave these shores and couldn’t think of a good idea even if it smacked them in the face.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ironic then that one of NRA’s primary engineers during the design of the ETH and other main roads is from the USA! Some others from the UK – hence the love affair with roundabouts!

        • anon says:

          3.11pm Obviously the NRA have to bring in qualified personnel to do the important jobs, just like the Monetary Authority and others.

          • Anonymous says:

            Further to my thoughts on having the crossovers on the highway, i first thought of it a little over a year ago when, because of the tsunami warning, the country got in their cars and made the largest traffic mess we had seen since the great Easter road closure on the old bypass by Camana Bay.

            Had there actually been a tsunami that day…

            Well anyway. Heading back to town i elected to park my car at Camana Bay and walk and spied a truck i would notice if i beat it or not. (He caught up to me at Smith Road, almost an hour after i first saw him).

            Again… GRIDLOCK on the south bound lanes, no one heading north, easily could have been more lanes heading that way, but if you rounded to southern Camana Bay Rounabout, that was it. no chance to change you mind a do a u-turn.

            Not having these emergency access points is an accident waiting to happen. Even emergency vehicles cant access the other lanes due to the bumper car railings.

            • Anonymous says:

              And the Joke for a Tsunami warning and here we sit perched on a trench that is thousands of miles deep. LOL Tsunami warning.
              I guess Simon hasn’t been to the museum to see the outstanding mock up of the island and the trench. It would be a scientific miracle if tat earthquake (and where it is located) caused a Tsunami in Cayman… (and people out looking on SMB which would be the wrong direction anyway)

        • Anonymous says:

          Well I’m from the US and have lived in over 15 cities maybe that useless NRA American hasn’t lived in larger metropolis’. IDK! But the idea of crossovers and shutting lanes to designate one direction is NOT a new idea.

    • They paved paradise... says:

      The West Bay road traffic snarl up was caused by cars heading to the southbound Esterly Tibbetts highway having to return. It would help if the police, that were directing southbound traffic at the CIS roundabout to do a U turn, also placed a Diversion sign at the Camana Bay roundabout and smilarily a “Northbound traffic only” at the traffic lights at the Laurence Thompson Boulevard.

    • Tom says:

      What is pylons? This is carry high voltages power cables not for dealing vehicles on the road!

  7. Humpty Dumpty says:

    Now’s the chance to use the 3 new tanker trucks along with the new Oshkosh aviation fire trucks, we never get fires at the airport, so might as well get some return on the taxpayer millions these cost us.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Southbound lane was closed before 1030am

    Smoke was never (and still isn’t) going towards the school.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Is this our equivalent on Bonfire Night?

    Anyone for a jacket potato, peas and a slice of parkin?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Oh but traffic and the dump aren’t priorities, building new developments are.

    • Anonymous says:

      Spot on. Kicking that can down the road.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes thats Sammy Jackson’s agenda.

      • Anonymous says:

        How so?

      • Anonymous says:

        He doesn’t have an agenda. He’s a lawyer who specializes in planning/development, providing legal advice to developers as well as clients who oppose large-scale developments.

        What’s your agenda?

      • Anonymous says:

        You have a weird obsession with Sammy. This article in particular doesn’t even have anything to do with him.

      • Anonymous says:

        Methinks it’s Alden’s agenda not Sammy’s.

        Alden is hellbound for the developers to develop every scrap of land and not for us Caymanians. One thing that keeps coming back to haunt him is this dump..Wait until they tear down Lacovia and they start moving all of that over to the dump..

        If we don’t elect a government that has the sense to manage this unbridled development these same fires will continue..Covering it up with marl is the only solution they have come up with so far. absolutely ridiculous!!.seems to me the only people that made money out of that was the people providing the marl.

        • Anonymous says:

          Methinks? Were you born in the 16th century? Or just trying to be seem erudite?

          • Anonymous says:

            No, just trying to make sure you read what I had to say and see if you can understand and keep okay now?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Seriously….is anyone surprised at this? I was driving up WB Road this morning and saw the new building going up which was engulfed in smoke. Nice million dollar views….

  12. Anonymous says:

    groundhog day anyone 🙁

  13. Anonymous says:

    Let’s hope HC at Camana Bay specializes in Pulmonary and COPD. They might want to do a rethink on their new location.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Cutting up scrap cars with inflammable materials still in them again?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Shame shame shame on the Premier and his government. Your utter incompetence, indifference and failure causes this country immeasurable damage! Shame on you!
    Cayman, we HAVE TO DO BETTER! Rid these fools of their posts and let us return Cayman to the people instead of the PPM’s cronies.

    This dump fire is but a metaphor of Cayman’s future under their lead!

    • Anon says:

      The PPM were only just bragging about the dump being capped at last nights meeting – oh the irony 🤣🤣🤣

  16. Anonymous says:

    PPM’s legacy.

    • Anonymous says:

      This legacy goes back to the 1960s so stop your politics muppet!

      • Say it like it is says:

        1.31pm You are absolutely correct, every single government since I arrived in 1969 has passed the buck (or more appropriately the MUCK) when it comes to the dump. Do not blame the current Govt when all the others are equally to blame.

        • D. Truth says:

          I don’t……. I blame them all, ESPECIALLY THE CURRENT BUNCH!! They had enough moolah to fix the dump, but they were set on peeing away all the money on a dock……. for themselves and the cruise lines, not the Caymanians!

        • Anonymous says:

          One problem, the current government had a chance to fix it properly. 4 years to be exact.

        • Anonymous says:

          Why shouldn’t we blame the current government. They have been there for 8 years and all the y have done is cover up the mountain with marl..

          Seriously, the are not innocent in this. Have you counted how many fires we have had in the last 8 years, particularly the one last year.. and the only solution is pouring marl on it..sure it looks nicer than looking at a mountain of garbage but the fact is the garbage is still there.

        • D. Truth says:

          Yah… I been through it all. It took a lot of trash and garbage to build Mount Trashmore. If it isn’t against the law, I AM going to blame this last bunch of failures, because they had the funds to get the job done, but they wanted a dock because it would mean more for themselves. Are all of our politicians money-hungry? Well, we don’t need a dock right now so how about doing something with Mount Trashmore to make it less harmful to everyone, especially our children.

      • Anonymous says:

        That still doesn’t let the PPM off the hook for the last 8 years.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Evacuate everyone downwind… move them into hotels on the northern end of SMB and let ‘er burn….

    No tourists, many offices remote, airports closed…. cheaper and quicker option… Dart’s hotels get the revenue…

    All the talking and no action stops!

    Rgds FED-up

    • Anonymous says:

      The people should know better than to live down wind of the dump by now. Great way of spending $1mill. Not.

    • Anonymous says:

      You don’t know how long that fire would take to burn all that garbage, do you? Maybe several years? Maybe longer?

  18. Anonymous says:

    And after every Dump’s fire, Cayman International School administration keeps saying that the school and its grounds are safe for children and staff; when in fact, outdoor equipment, trees, etc. must be at least power-washed (and the water used collected and disposed properly) or replaced and that includes ground coverings and upper level of soil. Then comes HVAC system inspection and possibly replacement…

    It’s easy to find large deposits of soot residue on exposed objects, but the individual particles are too tiny to see with the naked eye. Airborne soot particulate is invisible. SO THE GROUNDS AND BUILDINGS DECLARED SAFE by school administration, when in fact, they never conducted a proper professional inspection, for it is timely and very expensive.

    The list of potential toxins, carcinogens is practically endless:

    • Arsenic: Highly toxic chemical that can cause poisoning through inhalation of absorption through skin.
    •Sulfur Dioxide: Causes dangerous respiratory and circulatory symptoms that can easily lead to death in the elderly and infants.
    • Benzene: A carcinogen linked to multiple forms of leukemia and other cancers.
    • Mercury: Can cause permanent damage to kidneys, brain, a developing fetus, and to nursing infants. Effects on infants can include severe brain damage.
    • Hydrogen Cyanide: Depending on the volume inhaled, symptoms can range from headaches, dizziness, and gastrointestinal upset to seizures and death.
    • Hydrogen Sulfide: Acute exposure to this chemical can cause symptoms ranging from nausea, problems with equilibrium, headaches, and tremors to unconsciousness and death (if exposed to high concentrations).
    • Formaldehyde: A known carcinogen, linked to nasopharyngeal cancer and leukemia.
    • Hydrogen Chloride: Causes irritation to tissue, ranging from throat irritation at low levels of exposure to breathing problems, fluid in the lungs, and possibly death at higher levels.
    • Phenol: Leads to systemic poisoning. This corrosive chemical causes burns at the site of contact, and other symptoms, including gastrointestinal problems, hypotension, arrhythmia, tachycardia, and pulmonary edema. Can cause nerve damage and organ damage leading to death.

    • Anonymous says:

      Add dioxins, furans and heavy metal fumes (lead cadmium, mercury arsenic all very nasty compounds if inhaled or ingested.
      The ash from this and previous fires leaching toxins into the North Sound.

    • Anon says:

      The smoke was not going anywhere near the school, in fact you should be more concerned with all of the people who live/work downwind of the fire

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s not simple ‘smoke’. This is a toxic cloud lifted off the fire site by the updraft and dumped wherever the winds blow it. There’s no way of really knowing where all the c*** will end up or what’s in it.

        • Anonymous says:

          There might be if DEH had their ducks in a row. Why when DEH holds the responsibility for air quality do they not have adequate equipment for testing it? Because it’s such hard work? It might even reveal the true cause of the fire, but we don’t need to know that do we?

          Ignorance is bliss and impotence is delinquency. CIG failed the public again in protection of our environment, I give them a big fat “F” on their report card.

      • Anonymous says:

        Kirk Supermarket and Marbel Drive in particular.

        • Anonymous says:

          Marble drive is cancer ave in my opinion.

          • Anonymous says:

            Not Joey’s freshly paved Marbel Drive..You be talking about Slate and Helen Street..

            Oh the irony..Joe ylives in GTN directly downwind for the dump and supported the Cruise Port rather than pushing to help the members of his own constituency free themselves from this toxic environment.

    • Anonymous says:

      So you wear a industrial mask when driving a car to avoid fumes from vehicles?

  19. Bigfire says:

    i guess this is what happens when u make a “new” dump next to the old one being capped!

    • Anonymous says:

      To be fair it’s the “old” dump cars that are burning not the “old” or “new” general waste. Of course, there was never a proposal to deal with the old dumped cars because they were less visible or smelly. Of course until they tore down the mangrove screening them from the road.

      • Anonymous says:

        What about the post-Ivan scrap metal contract? One of the applicants for that deal offered to create a complete metal re-cycling facility to not only clear up the mess but keep it under control in the future. The ‘powers that be’ turned it down and accepted the Matrix offer. That fiasco sums the problem up nicely.

      • Anonymous says:

        Didn’t I pay a fee to CIG on import to “dispose” of my vehicle at the end of its life? Where did those fees go? The Turtle Farm? Cayman Airways? Clifton Hunter?

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