A fire at a Doral, Florida waste-to-energy plant continued burning as officials announced school dismissal plans, closed parks, and urged residents to stay indoors, multiple outlets reported.
"Miami-Dade Fire Rescue staff are working tirelessly to put out the blaze," Doral's mayor Christi Fraga said in a statement Friday.
"At 5 a.m. this morning, we temporarily suspended fire operations to allow the partial demolition of the east wall [of the Covanta facility,]" said fire chief Raied "Ray" Jadallah at the press conference.
Fire operations resumed at 1 p.m., Jadallah also said. The fire chief added that the temporary suspension of fire fighting activities coupled with unfavorable weather conditions and heavy machinery used to demolish the east wall resulted in an increase in smoke.
"Out of an abundance of caution. . .we're recommending that all residents [in the immediate area] remain indoors today," Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a multi-agency press conference Friday. Levine Cava emphasized that people with respiratory conditions, older adults, young children, and expectant mothers should be particularly cautious.
"The EPA has been collecting air samples throughout the last several days and conducting air monitoring with a live data feed," said United States Environmental Protection Agency's on-scene coordinator Matthew Huyser at Friday's press conference.
"Beginning [Friday] morning, EPA air monitors noticed that a higher concentration of particulates was measured at the north fence line," Huyser also said.
"The key message to the community with regard to safety and keeping people well is avoidance of the smoke wherever possible," said Jackson Memorial Hospital chief medical officer Hany Atallah during the conference.
Atallah recommended that people in the area stay indoors, with windows closed, while running an air conditioner. He further recommended changing the home's air filter if it begins to look dark and wearing a high-quality mask if going outdoors is unavoidable.
The fire at Doral's trash incinerator broke out on Sunday, February 12, according county officials. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and Miami-Dade Police responded immediately and no injuries to personnel were reported onsite. Investigators believe the fire was initially sparked by a conveyor belt, according to Local 10.
The Environmental Protection Agency, which is monitoring air quality as the fire burns, recommended that nearby residents stay indoors. In addition, Miami-Dade County officials announced Friday that two schools were arranging for dismissals and two parks would close.
The 40-year-old Covanta Energy plant burns more than 800,000 tons of garbage annually and handles about 40% of Miami-Dade County's garbage, CBS News reported.
Doral is a city of about 75,000 people approximately five miles west of Miami International Airport, near the Florida Everglades.
SPECIAL REPORT: Covanta Press Conference 2/17/23youtu.beLike Blaze News? Bypass the censors, sign up for our newsletters, and get stories like this direct to your inbox. Sign up here!