Residents of Arch Hall, Bennetts and the surrounding districts set about their usual tasks today, a day after fire ripped through the tyre dump at the Mangrove Pond, bringing operations there to a halt.
When a team from Barbados TODAY visited, not many of them were home, but the few who were told us they were not really affected by yesterday’s blaze that started just after 8 a.m. yesterday, prompting a national response from the Barbados Fire Service, Roving Response Unit, the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Department of Emergency Management, the Ministry of Health and the Sanitation Service Authority.
The teams sought to contain a blaze that would rage for eight hours, only being brought under control after 4 p.m. and extinguished sometime in the night.
“We will continue to monitor it [the situation] over the next couple of days, because the heat is a problem and it may build back. So far we are progressing steadily,” incident commander Assistant Superintendent of Police Bruce Rowe told reporters yesterday.
Earlier in the day, large plumes of black, acrid smoke could be seen as far north as the Arawak Cement Plant and as far south as the Grantley Adams International Airport, raising concerns about air quality for residents living downwind.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Tennyson Springer quickly addressed these fears by revealing that measures had been put in place not only to monitor the situation, but to also mitigate any fallout that might occur.
This included the opening of two shelters, one at the Sharon Primary School; the other at the Lester Vaughan Secondary School from 4 p.m. –– both of which were not utilized by residents and were later deactivated; and the deployment of environmental health officers to the area to conduct assessments.
“They have been monitoring the smoke in the [areas], and so far the smoke is going over the area and out onto the sea, and therefore there is no immediate threat to residents there. However, we would ask that they be cautious and be a part of their own monitoring team; and if they are feeling any effects, let us know early,” he said.
Chief Environmental Health Officer Tyrone Applewhite, who was also on the scene, said that based on the surveillance done of the area, there had been little fallout.
“You would have expected that this would have happened as long as the fire comes under control. Simply because of the reduction of temperatures, the materials, rather than going high in the air, would go lower in that atmosphere. From the missions we have conducted already, we have found that people recognize that there is some material in the atmosphere; however, it is not at a persistent level,” he noted.