A huge fire broke out on Tuesday, March 19 in Panama City’s main landfill, Cerro Patacón. As of Monday, March 25, the National Civil Protection (NSCP), Urban and Household Authority (AAUD), Panama Fire Department (CBP), and the Panamanian Ministry of Health are all still struggling to put out the blaze. It is the worst fire to hit the dump in ten years.
Panama has now received an emergency delivery of 100,000 gallons of foam from Texas to help put out the flames. A technical consulting team from the United States has also arrived to assist with the use of the foam.
Truckloads of garbage from the Cerro Patacón are currently being moved to a landfill in Playa Chiquita, in the district of La Chorrera, about 45 minutes west of the capital city.
“It was set on purpose,” stated Enrique Ho, head of the Urban and Household Waste Authority, who believes dump-scavengers set the fire. “The person who did this deserves prison. This is an attempt against public health.”
Ho also cautioned that there will soon be a garbage crisis since there is now nowhere to dump the 2,000 tons of garbage that accumulate every day.
The “garbage cloud” has begun to spread even reaching Bogota, Colombia.
Once the blaze is under control, a full arson investigate will begin.