Kenred Dorsett suspects arson in latest landfill fire
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Apr 20, 2017
Less than two months after a fire broke out at the New Providence Landfill, threatening homes in nearby Jubilee Gardens, another blaze started at the site late Tuesday night, and although fire department officials had yet to determine the cause, Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett suspects it was arson.
The fire continued to burn yesterday.
Dorsett said it started in the northern quadrant of the landfill, which was being used as a temporary tipping floor.
“From all indications and from what they have reported to me, we believe it to be sabotage,” Dorsett said.
“The fire is in a straight line, right along the ridge, which is not something that is standard if it were as a result of combustion and so forth.
“Clearly from what we have seen it is sabotage, it is arson, and it is wrong and needs to be condemned.”
Dorsett said the fire is not subsurface, but above ground and should be put out relatively quickly.
“I have told the team that I expect the fire to be out before nomination day tomorrow and certainly before Baha Mar opens on Friday,” he said.
Speaking to the security on the landfill, Dorsett said despite having 24-hour security at the site in the aftermath of the last fire, “the prime minister has indicated to us in our discussions this morning that if we need to bring defense force officers out here to contain and shut down this site, that will in fact happen.
“So I am going to have additional discussions with the prime minister later on this afternoon with respect to additional security on this site, because human intervention is now not only causing a major cost to the people of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to put this out, but it’s the public health that we have to be concerned about.”
Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller, who has been vocal on the impact the landfill fires have had on his constituents, said he believes the fire could be politically motivated.
“I guess this is political season so you do what you have to do to try to cause havoc in the minds of Bahamian people,” he said.
“Tomorrow is when we nominate, so hopefully we don’t be smelling smoke while we [are] nominating.
“These things now have to stop.
“...I hope that no one could stoop to that level that you have to light a fire to try to get yourself some publicity or try to get sympathy from voters, because I don’t see the sense in it, because you are affecting people’s lives in a very negative way.
“So let’s hope that is not the case.”
Miller said based on how the fire looked, “one can only assume it was intentionally done, again”.
Asked whether the fire was the work of an arsonist, Superintendent Walter Evans, who heads police fire services, said, “We cannot say conclusively, not at this point.”
When asked whether there was any evidence of a fire accelerant present, he said, “Any number of variables could have been used, but we are not in a position to [say] because we are really right now in a state where we really need to ensure that this fire is extinguished.
“I can tell you what we met when we got here.
“We met the fire on the landfill and we met a very, very large area (on fire), and we are not in a position, not at this stage, to say exactly how the fire started.
“Whether an accelerant was used or not, we are not in a position to say that.”
Evans indicated that “around 3 o’clock in that general facility we received a call of a fire on the landfill, and when officers...arrived here they met a large area burning which would have included household waste items.
“We dispatched several units here and as a result of that...the fire is now contained and we are now making progress toward extinguishing this fire.”
He said firefighters were initially concerned about the multi-reuse facility (MRF) machine.
“Initially the fire services implemented a strategy to prevent the spread of this fire, where we had some very, very serious concerns, particularly regarding the fire moving towards the MRF, which is a heavy piece of equipment which is valued at several hundred thousand dollars, maybe even in the early millions, and we have implemented that strategy and we fared very well in that regard,” Evans said.
The government has officially launched the request for proposals (RFP) process in an effort to facilitate the remediation and operation of the landfill.
The deadline for applications is April 26, 2017 and an opening of proposals will take place at the Ministry of Finance the following day.
Dorsett said earlier this month that the preliminary cost of remediation at the landfill is about $20 million to $30 million, but that amount is expected to increase.