Friday, April 12, 2024

IT MATTERS TO MARIA: Quarry fire has residents uneasy


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LAST YEAR Winfield Moore went to every Government agency he could think of to complain about the dumping of waste material next to his home at Storehouse gap, Mount Standfast, St James.

None of them gave him the time of day except the Drainage Unit he said.

At the time he and other residents feared that the hundreds of tonnes of waste, which included old metal, pieces of wood and other garbage, would block a watercourse in the neighbourhood.

Moore never envisaged another problem that the waste could have created until last Thursday when a fire broke out.

The waste not only caught fire but it has been burning since then and fire officers have been unable to extinguish it.

Now Moore and other residents downwind of the site and surrounding areas are feeling the terrible effects of billowing smoke.

With the fire raging right in his backyard, an upset Moore could only nod his head and say: “I told you so.”

It was only last October that he and his brother Owen publicised their frustrations in this column after failing to get health inspectors at the Maurice Byer Polyclinic to act when the quarry was being filled in with garbage.

“It actually took me three months of running around before I get a stop to it,” he said. “Nearly every Government office I went to ignored me. I finally get a guy at Drainage because he was concerned that it would affect the watercourse and he said this is a holding point; nothing should be in it. So after three months and it stop, this is what happened.

“I was there working in my boat and I saw the smoke at the corner of my eye,” Moore said, recalling when the fire started.

He quickly called the Weston Fire Station.


“They came and put water on it but said there was nothing more they could do because the garbage was buried at the bottom so it would just have to burn out by itself,” he said.

Moore estimated that with the tonnes of garbage buried beneath the surface it could take several months for that to happen. He was also very concerned after hearing four loud explosions.

“My sister is an asthmatic and she in there coughing because she can’t take no smoke,” he said. “I am still very angry about it … This thing can burn for a year because all under is logs, whole trees and stuff, a whole house and coconut shells.”

Lian Lucas, who resides at Mount Standfast Gardens, said the smoke and the ash was affecting her and her tenant.

“It is getting worse because the stuff is burning under the earth so it is opening holes in the earth that weren’t there before. I live literally downwind so I am dealing with that day in and day out to the point where I am experiencing difficulty breathing. I have my windows closed but the smoke is still permeating the house.”

The smoke got so bad that Lucas called firefighters again. harry-butcher-2

“They are saying because it is underneath the earth they can’t do anything … I can feel tightness in my chest. There is ash in my patio, there is ash in my garage…,” she said. 

Harry Butcher (right), the owner of the Doorless Bar at Porters, St James, who filled in the gully with the garbage to “cap it off” and prevent flooding on his land said he took no responsibility for the fire.

He admitted that several residents from Mount Standfast had been turning up at his door to complain about the fire but he insisted that it was not household garbage which he had put into the gully. “A man come out here and tell me my garbage, my fire, Butcher said.

He said he had planned to throw loads of dirt on the fire but he was unable to get equipment to do the job.

When contacted, officials at the Fire Service had no comment to make about the situation. (MB)


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