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UPDATE: Cox Heath fire flames contained, smoke continues

Teams of local water trucks, and a fire tender from as far as the Terence B. Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island, along with help from the Public Works Department and the Ministry of Communications and Works were on site to help contain the wildfire that erupted last evening May 9, 2018, at the Cox Heath dump site on Tortola. Photo: Team of Reporters
The fire raging at the Waste Management dumpsite at Cox Heath this afternoon, May 9, 2018. Photo: Team of Reporters
The fire raging at the Waste Management dumpsite at Cox Heath this afternoon, May 9, 2018. Photo: Team of Reporters
It is unclear the cause of the dumpsite fire at Cox Heath today, May 9, 2018. Photo: Team of Reporters
It is unclear the cause of the dumpsite fire at Cox Heath today, May 9, 2018. Photo: Team of Reporters
COX HEATH, Tortola, VI - Teams of local water trucks, and a fire tender from as far as the Terence B. Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island, along with help from the Public Works Department and the Ministry of Communications and Works were on site to help contain the wildfire that erupted last evening May 9, 2018, at the Cox Heath dump site on Tortola.

The fire that spread smoke to the western end of the island has caused concerns to the neighbourhood, along with some outer islands in the area. The origin of the fire is unknown.

All hands on deck

Director of the Waste Management Department Mr Greg R. Massicote, whose agency is responsible for managing the makeshift dumpsite following the Hurricanes of 2017 told our newsroom that there has been “no injuries to life and no loss of property” however, “Public Works is assisting in digging a trench around the fire to stop it from spreading”.

Mr Massicoate who has had his plate filled following the post Hurricanes clean up confirmed that “it’s a multi-agency effort to contain the fire along with getting equipment on the site”. He has not disclosed his suspicion on the cause of the fire that was just a few hours ago contained.

It is unclear how long the site will be used, as a dumping area.

Meanwhile, the Department of Disaster Management is advising the VI community that His Excellency the Governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert, on the advice of the Director of Disaster Management and in consultation with the Honourable Premier, Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) has authorised the activation of the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) at Level 2 in response to the fire at Cox Heath.

It further said Virgin Islands Fire and Rescue Service personnel are on the ground dealing with the situation and the US Virgin Islands authorities have been approached to assist in assessing the situation.

See article previously published on May 9, 2018

Waste Management fire rages @ Cox Heath

Residents of West End have been thrown in a state of discomfort and concern following a large fire at the solid waste dumpsite at Cox Heath, on the main island of Tortola.

The fire was reportedly seen raging around 5:30 P.M. today, May 9, 2018, and many passersby looked on in disbelief at the magnitude of the fire and smoke.

Residents could be heard expressing their disappointment with Government, saying “they could do better” and “What is happening in this country?”

The amount of smoke emanating from the site also raised health concerns.

The dumpsite at Cox Heath swelled significantly following the hurricanes of September 2017 as most of the debris ended up being taken there.

Government has since hired an overseas firm to ship out most of the recyclable hurricane debris from the Territory and burn combustible materials at the Pockwood Pond incinerator.

Director of the Waste Management Department, Mr Greg R. Massicote speaking exclusively to our newsroom said he and his crew was on the site around 4:30 P.M. and when he left "there was no fire".

He said, "All cards are on the table as to the cause of the fire" which the Fire and Recuse Department is struggling to put out.

Meanwhile, it is unclear at this time if persons on St John and even St Thomas, US Virgin Islands are being affected by the fire.

It was on January 16, 2018, that a large landfill fire at Pockwood Pond, on the main island of Tortola, affected persons as far as St Thomas, many of whom expressed their concerns on Facebook.

Director of the Waste Management Department, Mr Greg R. Massicote had told this news site the landfill fire may have started with combustible materials exposed at the dump site that was created after the incinerator was affected by shortage of power after the hurricanes in September 2017 and then just around Christmas eve when the backup generator for the incinerator developed problems.

28 Responses to “UPDATE: Cox Heath fire flames contained, smoke continues”

  • wow (09/05/2018, 20:59) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    • Hrmph (10/05/2018, 06:09) Like (6) Dislike (21) Reply
      Let it burn. It is the best long term solution and we will just have to cope with the smoke for a week or so.
  • Lawdamercy (09/05/2018, 21:36) Like (16) Dislike (17) Reply
    The spirits are angry in this place.
  • NezRez (09/05/2018, 21:36) Like (18) Dislike (3) Reply
    West end, St. John and St Thomas will all be affected. This is serious.
  • Hmmm (09/05/2018, 22:05) Like (14) Dislike (3) Reply
    Someone willfilly did this tis aint no accident or heat wave fire peoplle just sickening trying prove point
  • wize up (09/05/2018, 22:43) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
    home affairs is lacking:
  • disgraceful (10/05/2018, 03:30) Like (10) Dislike (4) Reply
    Whatever the cause of the fire, one thing is certain, this whole dump site management was a wicked and disgraceful
    situation. This country is in serious trouble. The problem is about to be compounded for the poor and needy by those who still have something to fall back on.
    • wize up (10/05/2018, 08:42) Like (6) Dislike (3) Reply
      @ disgraceful: I personally must agree with you 101%: as the owner of businesses I certainly understand the concept of pumping our tax money towards tourism; have said that WTF about the people who continuously pays the taxes: we continue to get the short end of the stick: even stupid me know eventually that dump site will catch on fire; the one pockwood pond does it: inhaling all that muck can’t be very healthy: those designated dump sites needs the correct management system in place for the protection of our people.....we need to safeguard against those combustion fires because the content of dump sites are hazardous to our health
      • poor we (10/05/2018, 17:07) Like (13) Dislike (2) Reply
        Does anyone care what is or can be hazardous to your health around these islands? Don't you see it is survival of the fittest.
  • visitor (10/05/2018, 04:21) Like (17) Dislike (1) Reply
    Does the government not realise that tourists also look at the care of the environment when choosing destination whether it be care of reefs or rubbish disposal. This is a bad advert for the bvi especially when high end tourists are so needed
  • wondering (10/05/2018, 04:23) Like (14) Dislike (0) Reply
    4am fire raging. Beyond belief! Yesterday la la talk about spending money for tourist attractions.
    Reality of the disaster state of the BVI is widely being over looked by the ignorant and ignored by those in Government. I live EAST of Road Town, and am smelling the smoke. Praying for all living in areas affected.
  • Little secrets (10/05/2018, 07:14) Like (21) Dislike (2) Reply
    Third world waste management practices highlighting how little BVI leadership cares about its environment.
  • See (10/05/2018, 08:42) Like (22) Dislike (0) Reply
    Ignorance on parade once again . Didnt the UN offer to haul the debris away free of charge and we turned it down ? The health and welfare of our peopke is obviously of zero importance . And we are open for business and tourism ??
  • Political Observer (PO) (10/05/2018, 08:59) Like (13) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is an unfortunate, unhealthy........etc situation for the western end of Tortola and the neighboring USVI. Accidents dohappen even with best effort and attention to detail. But did Murphy take up permanent residence in the VI? It seems like anything that can go wrong goes wrong. Is the VI snake bitten? Growth and development, population explosion, coupled with natural disasters (historic flood, 2 Cat 5 hurricanes) are posing monumental challenges to solid waste management in the VI. Proper solid waste management is a critical and vital national health and safety issue. Solid waste management anywhere and everywhere is a challenge. In large countries, they can construct landfill with a life cycle of over 100 years; the VI is tiny and does have this luxury. The government plate is overflowing but it got to get this process under control. It needs to call a solid waste management standard down, retreat to the war room and fleshout a workable plan. Leh ve du dis ting.
  • chef bob (10/05/2018, 10:14) Like (4) Dislike (6) Reply
    but it will taste soooo good when its done. british cooking.
  • flUffy (10/05/2018, 10:34) Like (14) Dislike (0) Reply
    I am asking the leaders of thi country where is my family and i to go now???we live just overthe hill from the daughter had tobe nebulized this can i take her back home this evening??Please mr Minister.please tell the affect persons in the area something!!
  • Cookie Monster Spirit (10/05/2018, 12:51) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
    Ronnie is a failure - been saying it for years but look at his performance to date!! Smfh....what’s next BVI?
  • wize up (10/05/2018, 12:56) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    this fire is a stone throw away from the sea water
  • Dragon (10/05/2018, 13:05) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    All the toxins going to settle on our roofs and be washed into the cistern
    • BVIslander (11/05/2018, 05:54) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
      The toxins are also going to settle in our various internal body systems. We need a reprieve of this bloody NHI. Imagine being unemployed, having to pay NHI and still have to support my kids, pay my loan, bills, etc. Can't get approval to seek care overseas when exhausted medical help here on island and now this. This is why people just running overseas to live. We love our country, but our country DOES NOT love us. I cant blame those who want to flee. We are slowly killing our own people on every level. Just COMPLETELY FED UP!!!!!!!! WIsh I could leave too!
  • Going well then? (10/05/2018, 13:36) Like (15) Dislike (3) Reply
    It’s a good job we didn’t appoint Norris to the CEO position of the RDA; who needs all that relevant experience, training and independence; and we’ve got plenty of time to waste before we get that funding onstream for the clean up and reconstruction. We’ve got more cruise ship and tourism business than we know what to do with; financial services will go from strength to strength with the good telecoms we have and we have ages before the next storm season. Way to go BVI!
    • Couldn’t be better (12/05/2018, 19:12) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      You are so right Mr “Going Well Then?” ( although that is an unusual first name ). We did dodge a bullet there. We nearly ended up with massive unavoidable fire and smoke inhalation issues in West End. There is a big party going on through west end tonight to celebrate its success as one of the cleanest air places in the whole world. Yes the whole world! Can you bel(..................................). (Sorry was just coughing). Yes - can you believe that? I’m so happy!
  • Windy (10/05/2018, 20:54) Like (11) Dislike (1) Reply
    London help !!! We can’t put up with these morons any more. PLEASE
  • 1st District (11/05/2018, 06:11) Like (1) Dislike (2) Reply
    It’s about time it caught on fire to stop the madness cause is pure stupidity they being doing very much surprised that the biggest equipment company that was going along with the stupidness for so long it all about greed
  • Honourable (12/05/2018, 06:57) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    So who is ultimately responsible for this national environmental disaster . Ministers should be resigning. Is the government investigating the airborne poisons , the particles caused when plastic burns , the chemicals leaching onto the reefs, I suspect not .
    There is also a smell of corruption in the air , has this convenient fire saved the expense of removal when contracts already inked and paid
    • Choking (12/05/2018, 19:04) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      What are we breathing in West End? It isn’t air. I don’t think it is corruption though. It is pride. This was avoidable and free offers to deal with the waste were not taken. We BVIslanders fail to accept help from the right people because of our deepset pride. In the words of the heads of one of aid agencies that pulled out because of the way we treated them - “The problem is that it is the wrong sort of pride.” And now we are breathing the wrong sort of pride.

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