After three suspicious fires in less than a month at St. Croix’s Anguilla Landfill, officials are taking steps to prevent future blazes, apprehend anyone involved in igniting the torched areas and resume operations.
According to Deputy Fire Chief Antonio Stevens, V.I. Fire Services is investigating the fires along with the U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Fire Services and ATF also are looking into the Royal Dane Mall fire on St. Thomas and two fires in Gallows Bay on St. Croix.
The first Anguilla fire, on June 17, inflicted major damage to the transfer station’s wiring, lighting, bailer and generator.
According to Adrian Taylor, interim executive director of the V.I. Waste Management Authority, it will cost $175,000 and take five months to fix the bailer (a machine that wraps and binds large bundles of waste material) or $1.5 million to replace. Fortunately, insurance was in place, and though they are still working with adjusters, Taylor believes the policies are sufficient to cover the structure and equipment.
In the meantime, lights, poles and power were restored to the transfer station by the V.I. Water and Power Authority a day earlier than they promised, and since Tuesday night, lights have been functioning at the transfer station and the back lots.
During the second fire, which started June 29, three of A-9 Trucking Enterprise Inc.’s pieces of heavy equipment used to move trash around, were ignited. The cab areas of the machines were probably individually torched, since none of the equipment seemed closed enough to the other for the flame to spread, Stevens pointed out during a tour of the area.
The third fire was less destructive and easier to extinguish – a number of 55-gallon cans with oil were torched.
Since the last fire, on July 6, security at the landfill has increased from two to four to five guards, according to Taylor, and bids have been solicited for surveillance cameras.
For years, Anguilla has been operating under a federal consent decree that ordered the V.I. government to move the dump because birds hunting the landfill could interfere with flights taking off and landing at the adjacent Henry E. Rohlsen Airport. Taylor said the next hearing, in August, will be for the agency to demonstrate compliance with court orders. Taylor said the Waste Management attorneys have been in contact with the courts to inform them about the fires and ongoing progress to get back to normal operations. So far, there has been no response from the federal government.