MIAMI – A waste-to-energy facility fire continued to burn late Friday night raising concerns about air pollution in Doral.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Ray Jadallah announced that fire crews had temporarily suspended fire operations to allow partial demolition of the east wall of the facility, so more air can enter the structure.
“As a result of the suspension of the fire operations, coupled with the overcast weather and the heavy machinery that was removing the east wall and pumping and removing some of the trash that’s on fire, we did have an increase in smoke production,” Jadallah said.
Doral residents, especially those who are experiencing respiratory issues, were advised to remain indoors and to wear a mask when going outdoors while the fire is still active.
County leaders also said the advisory also applies to young children, expecting mothers, and the elderly.
“If you live in the area staying indoors, keeping the windows closed, running the air conditioning is key,” said Dr. Chris Ghaemmaghaghami, Jackson Health System Chief Medical Officer.
Anyone driving around the plant was also advised to keep their windows up to avoid smoke from coming into the vehicle.
Doral Mayor Christi Fraga announced that Doral Glades Park and Doral Legacy Park will be closed until further notice.
She also said that all outdoor programming and events in the city will be rescheduled to a later date.
Danny Espino, Vice Chair of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, said the county requested early dismissals for the students of Andrea Castillo Preparatory Academy and Ronald W. Reagan Senior High School in Doral due to the current status of the fire.
The Covanta Energy plant is where the fire erupted on Sunday.
It is located near the intersection of Northwest 74th Street and 97th Avenue in Doral.
The Environmental Protection Agency has been on-site working with the county’s fire and division of environmental resources team to monitor the water and air quality.
“We’ve started to conduct air monitoring throughout the community, downwind near residential areas and we are providing that information through the incident command as well,” said Matt Huyser, on-scene coordinator with EPA Region 4.
Authorities said over 100 firefighters have been working around the clock since Sunday afternoon.
Road closures remain in place as firefighters continue to battle the blaze, and drivers have been asked to avoid the area.
Investigators believe the fire initially sparked from a conveyor belt.
“Until the remainder of the walls and the apparatuses are removed, we won’t have an estimate on the length of the firefight,” said Jadallah.