Disaster struck at Bovoni Landfill on the island of St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands, on July 7, 2023. The scrap metal area next to the landfill caught on fire, oozing an unpleasant smell and giving off black smoke, which spread throughout the island.
The USVI Fire and Emergency Medical Services personnel immediately responded by preventing the flame from spreading further. In the early afternoon, VIFEMS Director Daryl George ordered all firefighters to report to the scene.
George told the public the fire was still “raging” with large amounts of scrap metal and old cars being burned.
To complicate matters, the nearest fire hydrant sits hundreds of yards away from where the fire broke out, further complicating containment efforts.
George acknowledges that this has posed a great challenge. “We get it contained,” he said, and then the fire jumped to another area. So far, no injuries had been reported by Friday evening. At this point, VIFEMS contained 98% of the fire.
However, given the location of the fire, VIFEMS issued a community alert on Friday. The potentially hazardous smoke and airborne particles, which may be released into the air around Bovoni, have been labeled dangerous. As a result of the fire, residents should limit outdoor activities and make a concerted effort to keep out pollutants.
Lorna Minkoff, a Waste Management Authority spokesperson, reiterated that the fire occurred in a scrap metal area, not in the landfill itself. Due to the situation of the fire, the landfill has been closed until further notice.
Unfortunately, The Bovoni fire is not the first fire to hit St. Thomas this week. Several fires have roared across St. Thomas, with two firefighters sustaining serious injuries while containing a Vester Gade structure fire. One firefighter, Jerrell Brown, received a visit from Governor Albert Bryan Jr. (D) in the hospital on July 7.
“As I spoke with him, saying ‘thank you’ hardly seemed to be enough. God bless these heroes, and may their health be fully restored in short order,” Bryan said in a statement.
The Bovoni Landfill will be the center of attention in St. Thomas as the latest developments continue to rattle the community and their health.