Second major fire breaks out at landfill on Tuesday

~ Govt. Building closed; town schools, day-cares, USM urged to stay shut ~

PHILIPSBURG–A second major fire broke out in Philipsburg on Tuesday, this time at the original landfill, resulting in authorities scrambling to curb the huge inferno while still trying to contain the original blaze that started on Sunday at the second landfill, created after Hurricane Irma.

Explosions could be heard coming from the new fire, which quickly ballooned into a massive inferno and spread quickly along the landfill, resulting in fears being expressed by sections of the community.

Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin major in an update late Tuesday evening that the Government Administration Building will remain closed to the public today, Wednesday.
Six schools in the Philipsburg area – Charlotte Brookson Academy (CBA); Oranje School; Cycles 1 and 2 of the Genevieve de Weever School; Sister Borgia School; St. Joseph Primary School and Sundial School ¬– as well as University of St. Martin (USM), National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA) and Hillside Christian Schools Asha Stevens campus in Cay Hill are “requested to remain closed” today. All day-care centres in the Philipsburg and Cay Hill areas should also remain closed.

Recreational activities taking place at L.B. Scott Sports Auditorium on Walter Nisbeth Road (Pondfill) should be cancelled or postponed until further notice, she advised.
Three cruise vessels that were scheduled to be in port today have been “appraised of the situation” and have been requested to use their discretion whether to berth at Port St. Maarten, the release said. The Daily Herald understands that the ships were in fact diverted.

The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA has been in contact with St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) and it has not experienced any increase in patients with respiratory challenges, the release said.

Romeo-Marlin said the second major fire is being addressed by the Fire Department, the Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure VROMI and the landfill management contractor. “All available resources are being used to fight the fire,” she said.

The Council of Ministers apologised to the Philipsburg community and surrounding areas as well as other districts affected by the smoke from the landfill fires.

Romeo-Marlin thanked first responders, civil servants and everyone “who continue to work and contribute to the extinguishing of these two major fires on the landfill.”

She said an investigation is being conducted by the relevant authorities as to the cause of both fires. “A second fire breaking out at the landfill on Pond Island is of great concern to the Government and has its full attention,” she said.

Source: The Daily Herald