There I was, minding my own business and tooling along in a Cessna 172 with my flight instructor. I was preparing for my FAA practical exam later this month. Then boom! We saw acrid smoke from the dump.
First we thought that a car was on fire but then a helicopter in the area reported to the control tower that the dump was on fire. Later, other aircraft indicated that it seemed like an explosion.
As a student private pilot, I've seen a lot from the air. After all, flying your own airplane is different from a commercial light. Whales, dolphins, oil slicks and goats running across a runway (in Anegada) are some of the interesting sites from 1500 feet up.
But the fire at the dump was something new. Then the smell! The wind was blowing from east, southeast, so it filtered its way into the cockpit. An hour later, safely back on the ground, we were told that in fact it was an explosion.
For too long the Bovoni dump has been an area of serious concern. Methane fires and other hazardous conditions have existed there for several generations. What are we going to do about it? Are we going to wait until a whole section of St. Thomas is blown to smithereens?
We are literally sitting on a powder keg. Thank God for the quick response of emergency responders.
Terence A. Thomas
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