KINGSTON, Jamaica— Acrid smoke from a fire at a sprawling trash dump blanketed swaths of Jamaica’s capital Thursday, and officials warned people to stay indoors to avoid exposure to potentially dangerous pollutants.
Jamaica’s emergency management office said it would likely take three more days to bring the fire under control and five days after that before the foul-smelling smoke stopped billowing from the Riverton City solid waste dump.
Firefighters have struggled to extinguish the blaze at the seaside dump since it erupted Monday night. On Thursday, the waste management authority appealed for help to people with water trucks and heavy-duty equipment.
Officials in the control tower at Norman Manley International Airport on the outskirts of Kingston said no flights had been delayed or rerouted, but air traffic controllers and pilots struggled in the hazy conditions.
Shantytowns ring the open-air landfill, and government housing complexes and middle class neighborhoods have been built nearby. Smoke also hung over the southern city of Portmore, just west of Kingston and downwind from the dump.
The Jamaica Environment Trust said the health of all Kingston residents was being threatened by the gray smoke wafting from the dump, calling the fire an “environmental, human rights and public health catastrophe.”
There has been virtually no control over what is unloaded at the site so fluorescent bulbs containing mercury, car batteries, tires and all manner of industrial, commercial and animal waste are burning there, the group said.