The Daily Herald writes that the Bonaire communication office of the Dutch Caribbean Police Corps (Korps Politie Caribisch Nederland – KPCN) issued on request a followup statement on the investigation of the Fort Bay landfill car-tire fire incident this Wednesday.
The police stated that within the investigation “it has further been established that the fire occurred approximately 200 meters from the gas station.” The police statement suggested that the magnitude of the fire required the fire fighters to intervene until Thursday morning.
The statement was corrected by Julio Every, the local commander of the Fire Department. In a requested clarification he explained that the he noticed smoke at 11:00am on Wednesday and went to the scene to establish the cause. Once there, he assessed the urgency and immediately called the fire-truck. He stresses that nobody in the vicinity called the Fire Department. The team put out the fire under time pressure, not just because of the surrounding gas station but also because the fire truck had to be back at the airport to await the arrival of the 1:00pm flight from St. Maarten.
Every contradicted the police statement that the fire fighters were still putting out the fire on Thursday morning and suggests the police may have confused the smoke of the normal landfill Airburner activity with a continued fire-threat. Commander
Every calls on all eyewitnesses to call the Fire Department, police and Ambulance service when they witness an emergency. He said that the department had distributed their emergency telephone number, 416 6840 to all public offices and businesses on the island. The police statement informs further that “the three suspects that were arrested have been released.”
The true extent of the damage and costs is yet unknown. “A forensic investigation was carried out by a specially trained police officer and a report has been made” states senior communications officer Lucia Beck from Bonaire. The statement highlights that “the fire was a danger for the immediate surroundings.”
In an invited follow-up comment on the school evacuation, Sacred Heart School Director Diane Wilson responded that she was notified by Lt. Governor Jonathan Johnson to evacuate the school due to the toxic smoke. She called the buses and the teachers led out the younger children first.
The evacuation reportedly created some confusion with regards to contacting parents but these logistic aspects were overcome in the small community where everyone knows each other. Director Wilson says that “all the students left and there were no incidents.” She added that teachers and children “in most classes did not know what was going on at first because the doors were closed and they had not smelled anything since they were busy with their work.”