Categorized | National News

Gomez: I Responded Immediately to Island Fire

Even though fire officials have contained the three day bush fire in the Berry Islands, Member of Parliament for that island Dr. Perry Gomez said the flames from those in opposition are still raging from those who are seeking to use the issue to gain political mileage.

On Tuesday Dr. Gomez set the record straight for those who accuse the government of being slow to act in assisting residents on that far flung island while revealing more details about that blaze.

At a press conference in the Majority Committee Room in the House of Assembly yesterday, Fire Chief Superintendent Walter Evans said the blaze spanned over 200 acres of land.

Dr. Gomez also reported today that the fire was so huge that in addition to the police and fire services, officials from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) were also called in and the US Embassy were on standby for potential assistance.

“It is therefore erroneous that there was no loss of property or life and for this we are very grateful,” he said. “This is not to downplay what could have been a serious threat to the community.

“There are some things which should not be politicised and a potentially destructive fire in a small community such as the Berry Islands is one such case.”

Despite what has been reported, Dr. Gomez said he as MP, was not only made aware but immediately responded by alerting the commissioner of police to handle the matter.

Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis visited the island last week and criticised Dr. Gomez for not doing the same until the fire was put out.

Dr. Gomez said a team was mobilised Tuesday April 1 and was in the Berry Islands by 5:30 p.m. that day and stayed until Friday April 4 when the fire was controlled.

“One of the problems they had is that they only had one pump and one water truck,” he added. “The distance to get the water was a good one.

“So by the time they wet the fire and go and get water and come back, the fire was ablaze by then. So if they had more pumps, more trucks, it would have been easier.”

Supt. Evans said had it not been for the quick work of island volunteers, the fire could have destroyed a significant amount of property and could have been more catastrophic.

As this is just the beginning of the dry season all islands should be on the lookout.

“All of the islands are placed under that same kind of scenario,” Supt. Evans added. “This is the dry season and because of that we do expect to get calls from several of the other islands. What we want to say to the public at large, whether they reside in Grand Cay, Abaco, Matthew Town, Inagua or throughout The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is that if there are any bushes nearby their homes, they should consider creating what we call a fire break.

“All it simply means is that you can get someone with a heavy duty tractor that will create some perimeter clearance around the property and if that perimeter is between 30 and 50 feet that will create some safety measures.

Officials said while most of the far flung Family Islands are not equipped with enough resources for fire fighting, they insist that as soon as they need them, resources and man power are deployed.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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