Thick smoke blanketed the western coast off San Fernando for several hours on Sunday night after fire broke out behind Roodal Cemetery, destroying mounds of waste from the Embacadere landfill, spewing potentially toxic fumes into nearby homes.
The fire, which lasted for several hours, prompted a visit from San Fernando Mayor Kazim Hosein, who called for an increase in fines for those setting outdoor fires without a permit.
Saying he was outraged at the frequent fires at the landfill, Hosein said a committee was set up to address the matter.
"We are looking into the closure of the dump. It is situated at the heart of the city and we have set up a committee to look at doing consultations for the closure of the dump," Hosein said. He added that the residential communities on the outskirts of the city were affected by the smoke.
"People bring a lot of white waste and dump it at this site. We want this landfill to be closed because there is a big housing area around it," Hosein said.
Saying it was difficult to catch the culprits who lit fires at the dump, Hosein said he hoped increased fines would act as a deterrent.
Community Comfort Patrol officers visited the landfill during the fire yesterday. Firefighters also arrived and managed to keep the fire from spreading over the wall into the Roodal Cemetery.
Earlier this week, senior fire officers called on citizens to obtain fire permits before they set any outdoor fires. Anyone found lighting indiscriminate fires could face a fine of $1,500 and six months imprisonment.
Over the past week, more than 20 bush fires were recorded throughout T&T.
Shaliser Theodore-Hospedales and her seven-year-old son Hezekiah Hospedales died as a result of bush fires on April 1. On March 25, Forestry Division officer Keith Campbell also died while battling a forest fire at Lady Chancellor Hill, St Ann's. Three of his colleagues were also hurt in that incident.
Under the Agricultural Fires Act (Ch63:02 Act 20 of 1965) a permit, obtainable from the nearest fire station, is required to light outdoor fires big or small, during the period December 1 to June 30.