In a news release, the National Solid Waste Management Authority said that the fire started at 3:10 p.m. on Wednesday at the Riverton City Landfill in Kingston, Jamaica. Massive fires have ravaged the dump in the past, the last one in 2014, affecting 15 acres of land. Note: 60% of Jamaica’s waste goes to the poorly managed Riverton City Landfill. “The team and our fire-fighting partners are working assiduously to extinguish the blaze; however, our efforts are being challenged by strong winds. We will provide updates in short order,” the NSWMA release added.
On Thursday, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) reported that the fire had been contained. However, an increase in the volume of smoke permeating the general environment led the Education Ministry to authorise schools to close for that day in the interest of protecting the health of students and staff.
ODPEM says that a thick smoke cover is being experienced in sections of the Corporate Area, with significant impact being reported in parts of Portmore, St. Catherine.
The Jamaica Fire Brigade yesterday said that the latest fire at the Riverton dump had grown twice in size to approximately five acres, despite intense efforts to keep it under control.
Public Relations Director Emilio Ebanks told the Jamaica Observer that strong winds had proved a major challenge to the team’s response. Approximately 70 fire-fighters, 8 fire trucks and 4 tractors were brought to the site to fight the blaze. People are being advised to report to their physician or general health facility should they experience respiratory conditions as a result of the smoke. “The situation, as it is right now, is very challenging. We understand the circumstance but we are doing the best we can,” Ebanks said.