BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - A sharp and noticeable increase of bush fires in St. Kitts is causing serious concern amongst members of the St. Kitts-Nevis Fire and Rescue Services Department.
Speaking in an interview with SKNVibes, Acting Fire Chief Everette O’Garro explained that officers based at the Basseterre, Tabernacle and Sandy Point Fire Stations respond to an average of four reports of bush fires on a daily basis.
One of the most recent and most ravaging of the fires occurred two days ago in Sandy Point.
This publication understands that it burnt through brush across several acres of land. And while it ran through the grassland and came dangerously close to a residential area, it was reported that there was no damage to property.
According to O’Garro, a number of the fires are attributed to farmers and or persons who need to clear a piece of land.
“We have become extremely concerned about the rising incidences in bush fires. And we want to make a serious appeal to the general public to desist from the practice of lighting brush fires. The problem is basically surrounding farmers, people who are doing new construction who may want to clear a piece of land. Rather than taking the brush off to the landfill, they think it best to light them.”
He reminded that lighting fires is an offence and warned that if persons are caught they would be reported to the authorities.
“It is important for people to know that these types of fires can easily get out of control and spread to surrounding residential areas. It is a serious threat to people who have property in those areas. So we want to appeal to people to stop the practice, because if we catch you we will definitely report you to the police.”
The Fire Chief (Ag) informed that for those who - for whatever reason - would need to light a fire, it is required that the Fire Services be contacted and an assessment would be performed before permission could be granted.
“If you want to light a fire, it is important that you come to the Fire Services and seek permission to do so. We are the experts in fire fighting so what we would do it have someone go and assess the area and decide whether it’s safe for the person to be allowed to light the fire in that area. We don’t really like to give permission but, in some situations, we allow it. We make sure that there is no chance of fires spreading to surrounding areas before we give permission. Not only that, but we also make sure that the individual who is seeking permission has certain fire-supersession devices and equipment in the event that the fire gets out of control.”
Advising individuals who have residential property in bushy areas, Fire Chief O’Garro (Ag) suggested that they create firebreaks around their homes.
“We want to appeal to people who have homes in bushy areas to make a serious investment in building what we call firebreaks around the home. This is basically clearing a piece of land around your property, removing the brush and debris, so if there is a fire it would prevent it from spreading to your property.”