Fire officers and other supporting workers are still on the scene of the massive fire that combusted at the waste facility/incinerator in Pockwood Pond, Tortola less than 24 hours ago.
Large clouds of smoke are still being emitted from the facility. But, Chief Fire Officer Zebalon McLean says the fire has been contained. His officers managed to contain the blaze around 7 pm on Monday.
Speaking with BVI News around 9:30 Tuesday morning, McLean projected that the fire will be completely extinguished within the next two hours, roughly.
“Instead of just trying to put it (the fire) out, they’re actually using heavy equipment to separate the contents of the pile. So, once it is brought outside and it’s threatened, the water goes on it immediately … When they are finished with the operation, there should be no smoke left,” McLean said while noting that workers are treading slowly and cautiously.
“You have to be careful as you manoeuvre into and around the pile,” he noted.
The fire was inside an indoor facility at the site and was caused by a gas tank explosion.
Chief McLean said, while they were concerned at the start of the fire, their fears are now allayed since the facility was found to have sustained minimal structural damage.
“As it is, we were able to arrest the advancing of the fire so it (the indoor facility where the fire burned) is not going to suffer as much damage as it would have, had the fire been bigger. But there will still have to be an assessment to see exactly what has been damaged and what could be salvaged and how soon it will be up and running,” he told BVI News, adding that the said indoor facility is mostly made of metal walls and glass windows.
“It’s not like it’s a wooden structure that would be compromised,” he said.
Near traffic accidents | Smoke not a big concern now
As for the smoke and any related health impacts, Chief McLean said it should be of little concern to residents in and around the area.
“We’ve managed to contain the fire and we’ve started to put it out so the smoke should not be of any great significance to the surrounding areas nor to the distant area,” he noted.
He, however, encouraged motorists not to get distracted as they pass the burning facility.
This warning follows a series of near-traffic accidents in the area on Monday.
“We had some very near misses yesterday afternoon to last night with persons looking up at the incinerator while they were still moving; slowing down and weaving all over the road … So, as you move along, try not to be too much of a sightseer because you could create another problem,” he said in a statement directed at the motoring public.
The fire chief, in the meantime, has commended the efforts of his officers and the supporting workers from the BVI Electricity Corporation, Tortola Concrete Limited who assisted in providing heavy equipment, as well as the Public Works department and private businesses.
“It (the fire) was quite intense because, as you can image, with a metal structure and a contained fire, you can have temperatures well exceeding 3,000 degrees. So, that in itself can be somewhat draining as we employ efforts to put it out. But those guys did a wonderful job,” he said.
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