Potentially toxic smoke filtered through the city of Port-of-Spain yesterday after yet another overnight fire at the Beetham landfill.
The dump was closed for business yesterday as authorities focussed on extinguishing the fire at the eastern end of the facility.
Yesterday, thick smoke was seen over the Beetham, Sea Lots and neighbouring communities.
Officials at the Solid Waste Management Company Ltd (SWMCOL) advised that vehicles carrying waste material should divert to another landfill site.
In April last year, another large fire caused thick smoke to waft into the city and caused a traffic backlog along the Beetham Highway. Visitors to the city had to resort to wearing respiratory masks to avoid breathing in the fumes. In January 2014, the city was also engulfed with toxic smog after a large fire burned in the landfill or days.
One official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the fire was still burning at the dump.
"The fire is still in the landfill but it is reduced... We have closed the landfill and stakeholders services should go to Guanapo Landfill (Arima) or Forres Park in Claxton Bay temporarily.
"The smoke is residual and not harmful and the smoke is blowing into the landfill or out to sea depending on the wind and direction," the official said.
She said illegal scavenging was to blame for the fire and 60 per cent of the fire was extinguished.
"The smoke is not affecting the Port-of-Spain area but we advise all commuters to proceed with caution along the Beetham area. It will remain closed until further notice," she said.
A statement from the company at 3.22 pm yesterday confirmed that the fire was started by illegal salvaging. It stated that 60 per cent of the fire had been extinguished and the smoke was not affecting Port-of-Spain and environs due to the wind direction. However, SWMCOL advised all commuters to proceed with caution along the Beetham highway.
The landfill, the statement said, would remain closed today until further notice.
Staff at the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management, Fire Service, Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and the Police Service were assisting.
Acting deputy fire officer Kenny Gopaul said that the fire was burning on 50 acres of garbage and was still smouldering.
"We have an appliance and water tender out there. It is not posing a threat to the environment or industrial areas but it is still smouldering," he said yesterday.
Gopaul said the fire was deep-seated and the fire-fighters didn't know what was burning underneath.
"We try to do a lot of smothering with dirt instead of water so it won't get in the water ways," he said.