NASSAU – An immediate evacuation has been ordered after a massive fire broke out at the city dump in The Bahamas’ capital, Nassau, in the island of New Providence yesterday and continues burning.
The order to leave the area immediately, applied to residents living in the surrounding area of Jubilee Gardens who have been advised to take all necessary precautions to ensure their safety. Evacuation facilities were established at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.
The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, has activated its Emergency Plan, and all available resources have been mobilized, a statement from the government said.
Although it is too early to be certain, officials say it appears that a number of fires were started in the area and because of the high winds being experienced on New Providence, at least one of those fires blew across the boundary and ignited the public landfill.
Prime Minister Perry Christie was on the scene shortly after the scale and intensity of the blaze were confirmed.
“The number one priority is to ensure that everyone is safe. I am confident that the Emergency Services are doing whatever is required to make certain that no-one comes to harm. We have already made every resource available to limit the damage to property, and to minimize environmental harm,” he said.Christie added that the government would reach out to international partners for assistance, if the situation warrants that.
Fire Chief Assistant Superintendent Walter Evans said on Monday morning that while the colour of the smoke has changed, indicating less toxic fumes in the air, the fire at the New Providence Landfill has grown overnight and firefighters are still working to contain the blaze.
The evacuation order for Jubilee Gardens is still in effect for Monday as most of the area is still covered in smoke.
According to Leslie Miller, the MP for Tall Pines, the fire raging at the city landfill has come dangerously close to the gas company on Gladstone Road and trucks have been deployed there to prevent an explosion.
The fire also crept into the yard at Aquinas College on Sunday night but was extinguished before any damage could be done to the buildings. The College is closed on Monday.
Overnight reports are that no houses were burned or destroyed. Royal Bahamas Defence Force marines were on security detail all night in affected areas, ensuring homes were not vandalised or broken into.
Depending on the winds easing, residents will be able to return home later on Monday morning from shelters at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium and Mario’s Bowling.
The Bahamas Humane Society took in five animals from Jubilee Gardens on Sunday night and reports that it is set up for an influx on Monday.
The BHS is asking for food, bowls, towels, pet crates or cages (clearly labelled so they can be returned).