The Virgin Islands Fire and Rescue Service is employing all the necessary resources to extinguish the Cox Heath debris site fire as quickly as possible.
Chief Fire Officer, Mr. Zebalon McLean said, “We received supplementary firefighting equipment and are in the process of procuring additional equipment needed to control this fire.”
He further stated that a multifaceted approach is being taken to attack this complex fire. “The diverse and huge amount of combustible materials is prolonging the extinguishing of the core flames. The use of heavy equipment on the site has helped tremendously in containing the fire and has enabled the Fire Officers to access the inner quadrants of the piles of material to further reduce the flames. More heavy equipment is being sought to support the ongoing operations,” Chief McLean said.
While there has been a significant reduction in the fire, the Chief is advising the community that there will be continued smoke plumes until the flames are fully extinguished.
The Chief said, “As we work to put out the fire, the community will continue to see smoke, however, the density and thickness of the smoke has been significantly reduced.”
Asthmatics and persons with respiratory illnesses are still being urged to take extra precautions to limit exposure to the smoke.
Persons in need of general advice due to health challenges from the effects of the Cox Heath debris site fire are advised to telephone the BVIHSA Health Helplines for assistance. The Road Town Health Centre Helpline can be reached at 852-7681 and the Cane Garden Bay Health Helpline at 852-7770 or 440-1641 or 440-1728. Persons may telephone from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. Those in need of urgent assistance should call 911 or visit the Pebbles Hospital Emergency Department.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation and as a result, the site is closed and access to unauthorised vehicles is restricted. The public is advised to take all debris to the incinerator at Pockwood Pond.
Additionally, the Department of Waste Management has initiated arrangements to remove the recyclables from the Cox Heath debris site. A recycling baler will soon be positioned at the Cox Health debris site to compact the recyclable materials for transportation off the island. Persons wishing to lend their support or expertise to this process can email their intentions to the Manager of the Department of Waste Management at DWM@gov.vg.
For updates and additional information, residents are asked to monitor the Department of Disaster Management’s website (bviddm.com) and Government of the Virgin Islands’ website (bvi.gov.vg). Find them on social media (Facebook, Twitter) at usernames @bviddm and @BVIGovernment respectively, please email questions or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) will remain under a Level 2 activation until we are satisfied that the risks have been significantly reduced.