An ongoing fire at the Bovoni Landfill on St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands (USVI), has resulted in Governor Albert Bryan Jr. issuing an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency throughout the neighbouring territory.

According to information from the USVI’s Government House, the landfill has been on fire since September 14 and has resulted in poor air quality that has forced the closure of nearby schools and businesses.

“The fire is not sustainably contained and external assistance is required to extinguish the flames below the surface of the green waste area of the Bovoni Landfill. Immediate action must be taken to secure the necessary support to extinguish the fire, including coordination of fire-fighting assistance through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact,” Government House stated.

With the Order now in place it means that the Fire EMS Executive Director, Daryl George, is the incident commander who is responsible for handling the disaster.

The Government House said Director George will direct the territorial response and execute the directives for enforcement of the Executive Order, while the Virgin Islands Fire and Emergency Medical Services will be designated as the lead agency to coordinate emergency response activities in conjunction with the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA).

Director of VITEMA, Daryl Jaschen provided an update to USVI residents on Wednesday on the state of affairs at the landfill.

Jaschen said it has been an all hands-on-deck effort with firefighters assisting from neighbouring islands in conjunction with the collaboration of other agencies.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner of the VI Department of Health, Reuben Molloy updated residents on the potential health impacts of the fire.

He also listed some precautionary measures that residents should take to safeguard their health during the fire extinguishing operation at the landfill.