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Mayor wants Retirement ‘dump site’ fire investigated

Published:Tuesday | March 24, 2015 | 3:00 AMAdrian Frater

Western Bureau:

Montego Bay Mayor Glendon Harris wants the police to thoroughly investigate the cause of the latest fire at the Retirement dump in St James, which left sections of the western city under a heavy cloud of smoke yesterday morning.

Arguing against the background that unknown persons were calling various media houses to give reports about a smoke nuisance long before the situation was obvious in some of the areas they were naming, the mayor hinted that mischievous hands might have been behind the fire.

He said he wants the police to track down the callers.

"When the news came over that Bogue Village was covered in smoke, that was not the case ... I live right above Bogue Village and there was no smoke at the time," said Harris. "... So why was it that people were able to indicate to the media that the place was under smoke ... . We have to look at that ... I am asking the police to deal with those and those calls must be traced."

Thick smoke cover

According to reports, shortly after 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, a fire was observed at a section of the dump and the St James Fire Department was alerted.

The firefighters were quick on the scene and, by daybreak, they had the fire under control.

However, at daybreak, several communities in proximity to Retirement were covered in a thick blanket of smoke. The smoke reportedly spread as far away as Bogue Village, Long Hill and the Unity Hall area, which is heavily trafficked by early-morning commuters coming into Montego Bay from the neighbouring parishes of Hanover and Westmoreland.

"It really looked ominous this morning as we were coming into Montego Bay along the Unity Hall main road ... . I was really wondering if we were about to get a taste of what was experienced in Kingston over the past few weeks," a motorist said in reference to the Riverton City mega fire that started on March 11.

However, by mid-morning, the smoke had lifted and residents in the adjoining areas of Granville and Tucker were observed going about their daily routines.

"It did not affect us in any significant way ... classes are going on as normal," said Ann-Marie Brown, principal of Granville Primary School. "We are happy that it was no worse that it was, especially since some of the students will be doing GSAT (Grade Six Achievement Test) this week."

There was a similar fire at the dump last week while the Riverton City disposal site in Kingston was raging. At the time, a number of public officials hinted that the fires might have been deliberately set, especially after officials of the Jamaica Fire Brigade declared the fire in Kingston an act of arson.

adrian.frater@gleanerjm.com