Landfill fire produces ‘highly toxic smoke’ in Panama.

A huge blaze consumed the main Panama landfill this Tuesday (14th), causing a plume of “highly toxic smoke” over populated areas near the capital, a firefighter said, warning the blaze could take up to a week to put out .

The fire on Cerro Patacón, the country’s most important landfill site, on the outskirts of the capital, started this Monday afternoon and spread overnight without the fire brigade being able to bring it under control.

“A colleague who worked on extinction [das chamas] He took a fall, but he’s stable,” fire chief Eduardo Escobar told the Telemetro channel. The plume of smoke was visible from multiple locations in the Panamanian capital.

“The wind will change, so will the smoke. It’s highly toxic, but there’s absolutely nothing we can do about the smoke,” the official added. Putting out the fire “could take about a week,” he said.

The sanitary landfill receives more than half of the garbage from across the country. It opened in 1986 and has been run by the Urbalia concessionaire since 2008, who ordered the site to be temporarily closed, raising the possibility of an arson attack.

“Among the hypotheses that need to be investigated is the presence of criminal hands at this event, which is why we appeal to the competent authorities to continue the proper investigation,” the company said.

Hundreds of people informally make a living at the dump, looking for cans, scrap metal, copper and glass to sell. There have also been reports of violence related to controlling access to the area to collect rubbish.

In its surroundings, rudimentary houses were built, inhabited by lowincome families.


© Agence FrancePresse