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Huge fire breaks out at Pembroke dump

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Firefighters and police officers are out in full force tonight in response to a huge fire at Pemboke dump

Emergency vehicles are arriving at the scene as efforts get underway to extinguish the massive blaze which is being fuelled by winds as heavy smoke clouds area residents in the Friswells Hill area.

Hundreds of onlookers and area residents stood in heavy smoke to witness what has become a spectacle as the fire raged.

Residents speaking to The Royal Gazette said this was the worst fire they had ever seen. One mother with a young daughter who suffers from asthma is preparing to get her child out of the neighbourhood before the effects of the smoke filled air sets in.

All windows in her home are shut tight, but the heavy smell of smoke still fills the air. She is due to report to work at midnight and is now faced with missing her shift due to the heavy blaze.

The fire is being made worse by the high winds tonight. Duty forecaster at the Bermuda Weather Service confirmed wind gusts up to 40 knots tonight out of the SSW at 25 to 30 knots.

Area residents say this is the worst they have ever seen. Speaking to The Royal Gazette one woman said: "I was inside laying down getting some rest before I report to work at midnight, and I thought somebody was burning something in the kitchen.

"Then I finally got up when my son said the dump is on fire. So I closed down all the windows and I don't know if it's a good idea for me to stay here with my daughter who suffers really bad from asthma.

"She is nine years old and I don't know if I can go to work if I don't get her somewhere safe. I've been living in this neighbourhood all my life and I've seen many fires over the years, but this one is really bad. The dump never used to be that big you see how big it is now, it's a mountain now and its blowing straight my way."

Another resident said: It's spreading, it's spreading really, really bad and fast. I have an asthmatic daughter, I'm seriously thinking about getting her out of the area because its not safe."

Another female resident looking on from Friswell's Hill said: "I've been here for about 15 minutes, the wind is making the fire spread really spread. I've never seen it this bad before."

One man who was evacuating children added: "This is really bad, I've never seen it this bad before, and I'm getting my children out of here."

Tonight local MP and Public Works Minister Michael Weeks said: "Residents in Perimeter Lane and Friswell's Hill appear in the most danger of smole inhalation and evacuation policies are under consideration."

CedarBridge has been prepared to accept people who are evacuated.

On North Street, residents and restaurant staff gathered outside to watch the flames light up the night sky. Thick smoke filled the air, blowing rapidly towards the National Stadium.

They predicted a children's nursery in the middle of the smoke would now be closed for some time.

One woman recalled experts suggesting pipes be installed to allow gas to escape after the last major fire at the dump.

"I want to know whether they did that," she said.

One man said: "They've had a few fires here now. And they say they want to use that land for housing? No chance."

One woman said her eyes were still red from the smoke from when she rode through Devonshire an hour earlier.

Fire chief Vincent Hollinsid and Works Minister Michael Weeks held a press conference at a heavily smoky Victor Scott Primary School shortly after 10pm.

Mr Hollinsid confirmed the fire had started just after 8pm and involved two piles of tree cuttings, 50 yards apart from each other. One is 60 feet by 50 feet, the other 60 feet by 200 feet, he said.

He said 60 personnel were on the scene, but could not say how long the fire would take to put out, and said nothing had been ruled out in the investigation as to how it started.

Bermuda Regiment stands by to help in the morning, said Mr Hollinsid, who thanked water truckers for their help tackling the blaze.

Mr Hollinsid said the weather conditions could not be worse for trying to tackle a fire.

"It's unbelievable," he said of the wind.

Mr Weeks urged residents to stay indoors and keep their windows shut. He said plans for to evacuate residents from Friswells Hill and Perimeter Lane remain under consideration. Cedarbridge Academy is open, with temporary beds set up.

Premier Paula Cox said: "I have seen the pictures. It is a very concerning and sobering situation.

"The Hon Min of Public Works, Minister Weeks and Acting Premier Minister Burgess , Minister Scott and Senator Smith have been in regular contact with me to apparise me of the situation.

"Minister Weeks has kept me regularly informed. The paramount consideration is to ensure that the area residents' concerns are addressed so that any safety issues are properly attended to and we minimise any detriment to them.

"That has been the prime focus of the discussions between the Minister of Public Works and myself. This is an area that will affect sections of our Devonshire/Pembroke communities.

"And we are keenly involved. We all value and appreciate the work being done on the ground by our Fire Services and public se0tor workers to tackle the situation. The work continues.

"At this time one wishes the residents to be assisted as some may need to move and this is being addressed iso that the public interest is properly tended to.

"I am sad that I am not there. When our community is hurting you want to be there and on the ground. However I am in New York for a couple of days. I have some meetings for Government business tomorrow and I am a keynote speaker on Saturday night.

"However I know in my absence that all that needs to be done is being done under the lead of the Pubklic Works Minister."

Tonight Mr Weeks issued a statement which said: "We are taking this situation very seriously and our top priority is to ensure the safety of area residents. Cedarbridge Academy has been made available should any residents affected by smoke need to evacuate to a safe place. We will update the public as this situation develops, but I urge people to stay clear of the area and allow the emergency services to carry out their work.

“I must commend the excellent work of BFRS Chief Vince Hollinsid and his team for doing such a great job and staying calm under pressure. The Bermuda Police Service is also to be commended for keeping the area clear and traffic flowing.”

It is the second fire in the last four years at the dump.

* For more pictures click


* See this website for updates

* Are you affected? Email news@royalgazette.bm

Firefighters battling the blaze at Pembroke dump
Firefighters battling the blaze at Pembroke Dump

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Published March 29, 2012 at 9:00 pm (Updated March 29, 2012 at 9:58 pm)

Huge fire breaks out at Pembroke dump

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