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Residents on the western end of the Territory can breathe easier as the fire that erupted on May 9 at the temporary dump site at Cox Heath has been put out.
The fire is now extinguished following a three and a half week operation involving a number of resources from various departments throughout Government.
Incident Commander and Chief Fire Officer, Zebalon McLean said “The fire has been extinguished to the point where the emissions of smoke are negligible. The site no longer poses a threat to the immediate vicinity as well as the surrounding areas on all sides of the valley. Emergency response personnel and equipment will remain at the site to continue to sort the material and monitor the site.”
Mr. McLean further explained that a drive through in the Towers and Lower West End area on Friday June 1 revealed that there is no further smell or sign of smoke.
Full control of the operations at the site has now been handed back to the Solid Waste Department who will continue works to sort and remove the debris with an aim towards returning the area to its original use pre-Irma.
Manager of the Solid Waste Department Mr. Greg Massicote said, “We will continue our sorting operations to remove all the metals from the site. A baler has been at Cox Heath for the last few weeks to start crushing the metals and preparing them for shipment off island. These works will continue until all the metal is removed from the site.”
Mr. Massicote further said, “We expect the first barge to be here within the next 10 to 15 days to remove the metals. The material compacted by the baler along with the derelict vehicles will be taken on that barge.”
The incident at Cox Heath was reported on May 9. The Virgin Islands Fire and Rescue Services (VIFRS) were immediately dispatched to the site and have been working to control and extinguish the fire since that time. The fire service was supported by a number of agencies and departments whose efforts were coordinated through the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) that was activated on May 10 at 10:00am.
As a result of the progress that has been made, His Excellency Governor Augustus Jaspert on the advice of the Director of the DDM Ms. Sharlene DaBreo deactivated the NEOC at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Investigations into the cause of the fire will continue and will be led by the Virgin Islands Fire and Rescue Service. A review will also be conducted to identify lessons learnt in response to this fire.