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12 days later: Fire & smoke persist @ Cox Heath

- residents forced to evacuate homes & health issues are increasing
May 20th, 2018 | Tags: fire smoke Cox Heath health hazard dumpsite
Smoke still emanating from the Cox Heath dumpsite today, May 20, 2018. Photo: Team of Reporters
The makeshift dumpsite came into being following Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017. Photo: Team of Reporters
The makeshift dumpsite came into being following Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017. Photo: Team of Reporters
The dumpsite at Cox Heath, Tortola reached large proportions and Government has been struggling to manage the large buildup of debris. Photo: Team of Reporters
The dumpsite at Cox Heath, Tortola reached large proportions and Government has been struggling to manage the large buildup of debris. Photo: Team of Reporters
COX HEATH, Tortola, VI- It was on May 9, 2018, almost two weeks ago, that a fire erupted at a makeshift dumpsite in Cox Heath, on the western side of Tortola.

Following Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September of 2017 that left houses, businesses and churches flatted, humans and animals dead, big trees uprooted, cars overturned and destroyed, many residents homeless and widespread looting, a nationwide cleanup began.

The Waste Management Department (WMD) organised a makeshift dumpsite in Cox Heath where everything was dumped, including damaged beds, stoves, refrigerators, automobile parts, roof tops, boats, trees and even chemicals of all kinds. The garbage pile reached almost 12 to 15 feet in some areas of the Cox Heath dumpsite.

Where there is fire there is smoke

After some six months of debris of all kinds, including dead animals, a huge fire erupted on the afternoon of May 9, 2018 and as of today May 20, 2018 is still burning. Smoke has reached as far as St John and St Thomas, in the United States Virgin Islands.

A visit today Sunday May 20, 2018 by our roving camera confirmed the fire is not out after both the WMD and the Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) promised that in a week the fire would be gone.

The WMD denied starting the fire and both police and FRS are still investigating the cause.

The smoke from the fire has caused many to become ill in the immediate area, along with those in the western end of Tortola, and residents in the nearby St John and St Thomas are also bitterly complaining about the effect of the smoke on their health and ability to stay in their homes.

Many residents on the western end of Tortola and in the area of Freeman’s Reef have reported to us about the effect of the smoke and in some cases they had to leave their homes.

Residents in VI & USVI had to relocate too

The Dr Smith Government announced a few days ago that a hot line has been set up for residents affected by the fire; however, it’s not immediately known the type of information they are collecting or complaints they have had, or remedies on the situation.

It appears at this point no one knows for certain when the fire and smoke will end and residents continue to have asthma attacks, irritated eyes and coughs while others must stay away from their homes or endure the health hazard.

The fire and smoke persist after some 12 days later.

7 Responses to “12 days later: Fire & smoke persist @ Cox Heath”

  • one eye (20/05/2018, 23:10) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    Somebody need to get locked up for this
  • Sassy (20/05/2018, 23:43) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
    What is the hotline number please? The residents on the Western End of the island need to be given air purifiers at Government’s expense! And I’m not interested in hearing them ain’t have money because them had 7 million dollars to give away or pocket!
    • consultant (21/05/2018, 12:57) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      Those air purifiers will only have limited effectiveness. Fire needs to be buried instead.
    • grace (23/05/2018, 10:36) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Even a small fire in your yard when we burn is still smoking the next day. A fire of this magnitude will burn for weeks smoldering.
  • See (21/05/2018, 08:24) Like (16) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is all such a load of bullsh - - . The fire was intentionally started . A few hours before the fire was reported you could smell the diesel that was put on the pile . Anyone who drove by that day would have smelled it . I am sure the powers thay be thought they could reduce the size of the pile a bit with a burn ... a burn which spread upwind by the way ...hmmmm . And now to say they cant extinguish the smoldering mess . Maybe more water on it would help ... smfh . People are sick now from this and people will tragically contract fatal diseases if not now then in years to come. Someone needs to be held responsible for once and the damn fire needs to be put out !!!
  • bystander (21/05/2018, 14:22) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    This fire is a disgrace. From the news I believe Government had contracted with a service provider to remove the rubbish but that did not happen. A recurring feature of the Government's problems in the BVI seems to me to be hat firstly they don't seem capable of getting the advice needed to draft effective contracts with credible service providers; and secondly they don't enforce their contractual rights, assuming they have some under an effective contract. The BVI is full of commercial lawyers. It would be cheaper in the long run for Govt to pay for dome effective legal advice and get proper contracts drafted, which could then be enforced.
  • Out of Patience (22/05/2018, 23:30) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Only a very small percentage could evacuate. Many are stuck as housing in the VI is very limited. We appreciate your efforts, but please do not ask us to be PATIENT unless you are affected by the smoke on a daily basis and experience what we are going through. Breathing this potentially lethal gas on a daily basis is suffocating in more ways than one.

    And the worst part is there is a general consensus that the fire was intentionally set to aid in getting the metal separated from other debris. If this is true, at what cost? This would be very very sad indeed.

    We are now PLEADING with the Government to PLEASE find the way and means to put that thing out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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