News

Riverton burns... again

BY TANESHA MUNDLE Observer staff reporter mundlet@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, March 17, 2014    

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FIREFIGHTERS were yesterday challenged by a lack of water as they worked tirelessly to contain and extinguish a massive inferno at the Riverton City Landfill in western St Andrew.

The Fire Brigade was however assisted by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and the National Works Agency (NWA) with water but that was not enough, and as a result help had to be sought also from the National Water Commission.

The fire started at a section of the dump known as the Tyre Cell, where old tyres are dumped. Officials said that the blaze started around 3:00 am yesterday. It generated thick clouds of black smoke that affected people in sections of the Corporate Area and St Catherine.

Eight fire units with about 80 firefighters from York Park, Trench Town and Half-Way-Tree fire stations worked assiduously to contain the blaze, but the lack of water hampered their operations.

"We are trying to contain the blaze but that might take us a little while longer because we are sincerely hampered by water problems. We have been soliciting the assistance of the NWC and that is taking some time. We have tried to get them from as early as 9:00 am," head of the ODPEM, Richard Thompson, told the Jamaica Observer late yesterday.

Earlier when the Observer visited the scene, Emelio Ebanks, public relations officer of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, said that four units from York Park and Trench Town fire stations had responded to an anonymous call around 8:00 am.

"We are trying to contain the situation to actually bring it under control to carry out cooling down operation." he said. "We have one monitor working with foam, we have another aerial monitor that is working with water, so we are attacking it from different angles with water and foam," he stated.

According to Ebanks, it was difficult to estimate the length of the area that the fire covered, but its effects were widespread.

However, he mentioned that the ODPEM and NWA, as well as the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) which provided dirt, were assisting the firefighters.

But Ebanks, who said that the cause of the fire was still unknown, said that it could take close to a week to completely extinguish the blaze.

Meanwhile, Thompson said that the blaze will cause a huge amount of environmental damage and will also impact people's health.

"The amount of smoke that we are seeing and the fact that it's tyres that are burning -- we probably have over a million tyres on fire -- that in itself will create some amount of environmental damage and self hazard for persons who have respiratory problems and we are getting complaints from as far as St Catherine," he said.

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