(From left to right) Health Minister, John Boyce; Home Affairs Minister, Adriel Brathwaite; Chief Environmental Health Officer, Tyrone Applewhaite and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John, in discussion at the site this morning. (A. Miller/BGIS)

Put safety first and stay away from smoke resulting from the fire at B’s Bottle Depot in Cane Garden, St. Thomas!

This advice has come from Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, today as he urged residents living near the recycling plant in Cane Garden, St. Thomas, to stay away from the vicinity as fire and other emergency officials continue to battle the blaze which started around 12:30 p.m. yesterday.

Speaking during a press briefing at the Command Centre on site this morning, Mr. Brathwaite also urged those in surrounding districts which include Melrose, Arthur Seat, Padmore Village, Welches Terrace, Welches Land, Holders Hill, Prior Park, Halls Village, Paynes Bay, West Terrace and Haynesville, to exercise all necessary precautions and avoid inhaling the smoke where possible. Those areas are presently being affected by low smoke.

Mr. Brathwaite, noted that the fire had "died down" considerably from last night. He added that emergency responders would continue to use dirt to extinguish the fire and then determine the way forward.

"Unless it is absolutely necessary we want you to stay out of the areas for now," he said, noting that further testing needed to be done by authorities. Affected residents are again being urged that where possible to stay with family and friends until the smoke is brought under control.

Chief Environmental Health Officer, Tyrone Applewhaite, cautioned residents and others in affected communities to continue avoiding the area. "As the fire cools, things on the ground will get worse… We expect this to continue as long as the fire is smouldering like that, and we are hoping that people would keep out of the area as much as possible," he said, warning that inhaling the smoke consistently would only cause harm.

In addition, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Joy St. John, explained that there were issues of lasting air quality. She told members of the media that she had already made contact with the Public Health Laboratory to conduct microbiological tests, the University of the West Indies to conduct chemical tests, and the Environmental Protection Department to do chemical analysis on air quality.

She explained that the chemical content from the rubber of the burning tyres, cars and fibre glass, were among the issues with which officials faced. "They are not the worse chemicals, but they are also not the best. You cannot predict who will have issues with this, especially those who have difficulties like asthma. We are just being cautious," Dr. St. John stated.

Officials from the Barbados Fire Service, the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Department of Emergency Management, the Environmental Protection Department and the Ministry of Health, along with private entities, will continue to battle the blaze and address health concerns.


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