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Posted: Wednesday 6 February, 2013 at 4:32 PM

Deputy Fire Chief speaks out on alarming increase of bushfires

Firefighters at last Sunday’s bushfire in Carty’s Pasture
By: Precious Mills,

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – DEPUTY FIRE CHIEF of the St. Kitts-Nevis Fire and Rescue Services, Everette O’Garro revealed that there is an “alarming increase of bushfires” at this time of the year and is appealing to the public to stop the dangerous practice of setting them.


    Following reports of the frequency of bushfires in St. Kitts over the past six weeks, SKNVibes, showing its concern, contacted O’Garro to inquire of their origin; when it is common knowledge that such incidences mostly only occur during the summer.


    “We have become concerned as well as to the alarming increase of bushfires we’ve been having around the island. It is something that we’ve been looking at and trying to put a number of things in place in order to deal with it”, O’Garro said.
    Asked about areas where these bushfires have been occurring, O’Garro declared, “There are no specifics areas…they are spread out. Looking at the three fire zones in St. Kitts - Basseterre, Tabernacle and Sandy Point - there’s an increase in all zones. We just want to appeal to the general public to desist from the dangerous practice of setting fires.”


    The Deputy Fire Chief is of the view that some individuals had been the main cause of bushfires.


    “What we notice is that a number of individuals think it’s best to clear the land with the use of fire. Some persons, after clearing a piece of land, instead of carting the brush off to the landfill, they seem to think it’s best to light it to get rid of it.”


    As gathered from him, small fires could disastrously spread quickly.


    “We just want to warn people that a seemingly small, non-threatening fire can spread in a matter of minutes and do damage to people’s personal and private properties. So, we just want to appeal to the general public to desist from the practice.”


    Apart from the deliberate lighting of bushfires for clearing up practices, O’Garro spoke about the challenges the Fire and Rescue Services has encountered with coal pits.


    “We’ve been having some problems with persons in the coal business too. We know that coal is an essential business. However, we want to appeal to the persons who set up these coal pits to start adhering to safety practices. One of the things that they can do is to ensure that they build a safe fire zone. Clear a safe fire zone around the pit so that would prevent fire from that particular pit to spread into the surrounding areas. We’ve had a number of occasions where we had bushfires resulting from the inadequate setting of coal pits in a number of different areas.”


    O’Garro further appeal to the public to think about theirs and other people’s safety when lighting fires and advised that the Fire and Rescue Services could be contacted for assistance.


    “We want to appeal to people…don’t light. If you think it’s necessary to light, contact the Fire and Rescue Services. We would always have somebody on hand who we would send out. That person would come out and do a proper assessment of the area and they would be able to give you advice whether it is safe to burn or not to.”


    Individuals can call 465-4339 in order to get the Fire Department’s advice and services.


    The most recent bushfire occurred on Sunday (Feb. 3) at Carty’s Pasture in Tabernacle, where firefighters from the Tabernacle Fire Station quickly prevented what could have been a catastrophe for some residents.


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