Firefighters were still battling with thick smoke at the Pembroke Dump fire this morning. *Photo by
Firefighters were still battling with thick smoke at the Pembroke Dump fire this morning. *Photo by

FRIDAY, MAR. 30, 11:30AM UPDATE: At least one evacuee spent the night at a makeshift shelter at CedarBridge Academy after Pembroke Dump caught fire.

CedarBridge Academy opened its doors to any members of the public last night who were in need of somewhere to sleep.

Just one man made use of the offer of help and spent the night sleeping in the gym.

Lucinda Bean, assistant facilities manager at the school, told the Sun: “Once we heard what was going on down at the dump we made the decision to open the school for anyone who needed somewhere to sleep for the night.

“We set up cots in the gym and made sure we were ready for the worst.
“But I guess in many ways we were lucky as we only had the one person come up to the school.

“There are a few of us who were up all night, so we’re heading home now to try and sleep.”

CedarBridge was one of four schools closed down today as a precaution along with Victor Scott Primary School, Prospect Primary School and Prospect pre-school nursery.

Thick plumes of grey smoke drifted across Pembroke this morning in the aftermath of last night’s huge blaze.

The flames were still being doused by firefighters as commuters arrived in the city for work.

Fortunately for the residents of Friswell’s Hill, the wind last night and this morning spared them the worst of the smoke.

But many houses in the area were swamped by thick, acrid smoke during the night and well into this morning.

Residents in the Friswell’s Hill area had a front row seat as fire ripped through the dump and bright orange and red flames illuminated the night sky.

One mother-of-two told the Sun: “It was pretty spectacular to watch. The sky was bright orange.

“We were all watching it from the front of the house but we did not have to hide inside or anything like that as the wind was taking the smoke away from us.

“Both of the children are off school today because Cornerstone has shut for the day, but I think we have been quite lucky to be honest.

“The wind has been kind to us and all there is now is a faint smell of smoke. It could have been much worse.”

This morning there were still small groups of residents in Friswell’s Hill gathered together watching as the smoke drifted across Hamilton towards the hospital and the Botanical Gardens.

The dense smoke has forced the Department of Environmental Protection headquarters in the Botanical Gardens to close for the day.

Meanwhile, another Friswell’s Hill resident told us how the drama unfolded: “The first we heard was all the sirens heading down that way. Everyone was standing out in the street looking up to the sky.

“We did not really know what was going on at first, we thought that a huge building was on fire, but when we got closer you could see that the dump was on fire again.

“Last night the smoke was heading out over north shore and then this morning it’s been blowing to the south east so we have been lucky.

“You can smell the smoke but that is about it.

“I think most people have been able to stay in their homes. I don’t know anyone who had to be evacuated.”

Major Shawn Critch, from the Salvation Army headquarters on Roberts Avenue, said: “I think most people in the area were able to stay in their homes overnight.

“We have not had anyone coming in and ask for help in yet this morning.

“But we are working with Child and Family Services to provide support to the people that have been affected by the fire.”

This morning many motorists and motorcyclists stopped on Marsh Folly Road to get a glimpse of the destruction.

Several took pictures of the scene as efforts continued to douse the smoke.