Pembroke, Devonshire and even Flatts Village in Smith’s blanketed in smoke
Hundreds of area residents and spectators alike watched in awe as flames raged out of the Pembroke Dump, as smoke billowed throughout surrounding neighbourhoods.
The Friswell’s Hill area was one of the hardest hit by heavy smoke. Area 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 rushed to get her child out of the neighbourhood before the effects of the smoke filled air set in. All windows in her home were shut tight, but the smell still filled the air.
“I was 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.
“My daughter is nine and she suffers from asthma, I don’t know if I can go to work if I don’t get her somewhere safe.”
High winds last night did not help much either. The duty forecaster at the Bermuda Weather Service confirmed wind gusts up to 40 knots out of the SSW.
This triggered concern during the early stages of the blaze as cinder ashes drifted to neighbouring areas.
The lifelong resident of Friswell’s Hill added: “The fire this time is really bad. The dump never used to be that big and you see how big it is now, it’s a mountain, now its blowing straight my way.”
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 fast, I’ve never seen it this bad before.”
One man who was evacuating his children echoed the same remarks before driving off in a rush. At one point Public Works Minister Michael Weeks was contemplating an all-out evacuation.
And he urged residents to stay inside but his main concern was the cinder ash swirling around neighbouring areas.
At that stage of the blaze he said: “Residents in Perimeter Lane and Friswell’s Hill appeared to be in the most danger of smoke inhalation.”
Staff at CedarBridge Academy were put on notice shortly thereafter. By 11pm security and maintenance staff were setting up the school’s gymnasium just in case of an evacuation.
Director of Child and Family Services Alfred Maybury headed up that part of the emergency measures last night. He is directly responsible for government emergency shelters.
“We’re here preparing in the event, if the minister says open the shelter tonight, we’ll be ready. I got the call early when the fire started saying there was a possibility, so I’m ready for the possibility.
“We had to get security at CedarBridge first to get access to the building and then I called my staff, some are here, and if we open it we’ll have more come in. Its procedure to be prepared.”
On North Street, residents and restaurant staff gathered outside to watch the flames light up the night sky.
They predicted the nearby children’s nursery in the middle of the smoke would 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 in March 2007.
Questions were raised back then with residents claiming the Pembroke Dump fire was an “accident waiting to happen.”
At that time
The Royal Gazette reported area residents had nicknamed the huge mound of horticultural waste “Mount Everest”.
Concerns were also raised over the health of area residents.
One woman said last night her eyes were still red from the smoke from when she rode through Devonshire an hour earlier.
In fact smoke was heavy in the air as far down on North Shore as the Mid Atlantic Boat Club and even in the Prospect area.
Fortunately by midnight the towering flames were reduced to a smouldering heap, but smoke was still billowing heavily in the surrounding areas of the Pembroke Dump.
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