GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Due to the fire at a landfill site on Pond Island, the Prime Minister and members of the Council of Ministers continue to assess the situation and based on discussions Monday evening, a number of decisions have been taken.
The decision was taken to have the following schools in the Philipsburg area to remain closed on Tuesday, February 6: Charlotte Brookson Academy; Oranje School; Genevieve DeWeever School - Cycles 1 & 2; Sister Borgia School; St. Joseph Primary School; and Sundial School. The Minister of Education advises the University of St. Martin to remain closed on Tuesday as a precautionary measure.
A decision was taken to evacuate the residents and persons in the temporary shelters at the Little League Ball Park and the Festival Village to an alternative location. The evacuation of these two temporary shelters is taking place Monday evening.
The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development, and Labour is coordinating this evacuation.
Residents that live on Pond Island are strongly advised to evacuate their homes and find alternative shelter with family and/or friends.
The Police and Fire departments will be sending teams through Pond Island residential areas to assess which persons are still in their home, and will encourage them to seek alternative housing.
The Fire Department has indicated during a Monday evening assessment that the fire continues to burn on the landfill. The Ministry of VROMI and the Fire Department have implemented a system of trenching along the perimeter of the fire to prevent further spread of the fire.
Although this method has contained the fire to a certain extent, the massive size of the fire continues to flare up and generate smoke. The Fire Department from the North side of the island continues to render assistance.
The general population is advised to wear nose and mouth mask to avoid the inhalation of the fumes generated from the fire.
In general the Government Building and specific public services will remain closed on Tuesday, February 6; Secretary Generals and Department Heads within the seven ministries were advised to communicate with Civil Servants that are under their management to report to work where necessary and to arrange alternative locations and measures to ensure operations within key services of the Government of Sint Maarten continues.
The Ministry of VSA section Social Services will be available at the Government Administration Building for emergency information for persons living in the Pond Island area.
The Fire Department continues to advise persons living downwind from the landfill fire, to close windows and doors, especially persons who have a respiratory challenge such as asthma, or shortness of breath; and to pay particular attention to young children and senior citizens.