September 25, 2016

Fire Chief issues warning about starting illegal fires

Chief Fire Officer Marlon Gentle

Chief Fire Officer Marlon Gentle

With the Easter season here again, the Guyana Fire Service (GFS) has once again issued a warning to members of the public advising them against intentionally setting fires on lands particularly in residential communities.

Chief Fire Officer Marlon Gentle said now that the Easter holiday was here, persons would be more prone to light fires to clear off lands. However, these can be detrimental.

“There are cases where some of these areas are used as recreational spaces. This weekend is kite flying and being aware that some persons are clearing these lands so that they could get it to fly kite, we would like to encourage persons to desist from using fires to clear these lands. The reason being, most of these fires when they are lit, they are left unattended,” Gentle told Guyana Times on Tuesday. He said the fires burnt continuously, becoming nuisance to people.

“They obscure traffic, they pose threat to infrastructure such as utility poles, whether telecommunication or electricity, as well as people’s fences, bridges and culverts. We are reiterating the call for persons to stop indiscriminately setting fires for those purposes.”

He said fires were also set on pasture lands. “What I don’t think that persons are now realising that most of these areas are residential areas, and when these fires start, they affect both the environment and people,” the Fire Chief said.

“If the fires include garbage like old tyres and those kinds of things, it affects people. I would like to reiterate the call for persons to stop doing these burning because they could get out of control and people’s property could be damaged or destroyed.”

According to Gentle, the Fire Service has witnessed an upsurge in bush fires. Most of these fires, he said, are started deliberately by persons for land clearing or to get rid of rubbish and refuse.

Meanwhile, the prevailing dry weather conditions attributed to the El Niño phenomenon has parched much of the soil and grass in vast swathes of the country.

Gentle said the Fire Service has been battling between 60 and 70 bush fires per week. He noted that most of fires resulted from land-clearing activities and he is calling for a halt to “indiscriminate” burning.

He further observed that the Fire Service has undertaken numerous awareness programmes to curb these activities. “We’re weary doing programmes, this is a traditional thing… [It’s occurring in] Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six — everywhere,” the Fire Chief noted.

“People have to be aware that when they are lighting these fires, there’s a cost to it… most times it going into people’s premises or sometimes [it] threatens infrastructure like bridges, culverts, land poles,” Gentle emphasised.

“Ninety per cent of the fires we engage are brush fires,” he pointed out.

He noted that the recent fire at Coverden, East Bank Demerara on Thursday was caused by organic soil being ignited, but observed that not all of the occurrences were “natural” in origin.

On Sunday evening, firemen from Georgetown and Leonora, West Coast Demerara were able to extinguish a brush fire at Versailles, West Bank Demerara which threatened the nearby Aracari Hotel & Resort.

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