Categorized | National News

Minister Calls For Full Investigation Into Massive Fire

Environment and Housing Minister Kenred Dorsett has promised a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding Monday’s massive at privately owned scrap metal site.

The fire started just after 4:30 p.m. at the rear of the Strachan’s Auto Shop on Soldier Road.

The blaze quickly engulfed the nearby derelict vehicles that were stacked one on top of the other.

The fire left nearby residents under threat as thick clouds of smoke emanated from the blaze.

It took fire services officials nearly all night to extinguish the fire and at midday Tuesday small pockets of smoke could still be seen smoldering.

Police have not been able to determine what exactly ignited the blaze, but proprietor of Strachan’s Auto Everette Strachan has alleged that the fire was started by trespassers to his property.

He claims that he was about to close up the store when he and a few of his employees found a group of strangers at the back engaging in what appeared to be suspicious activity.

Further he says as he and his employees approached the group, they ran off jumped into a vehicle and sped away.

Meanwhile, Minister Dorsett fielded questions from reporters ahead of the weekly Cabinet meeting Tuesday and noted that Monday’s incident is a matter of great concern.

However, Mr. Dorsett was not able to say whether the auto body repair shop was in violation of any laws by having derelict vehicles stored on its property.

“We are always concerned when we have fires at the level that we had [Monday] and its impact on the environment,” the minister said.

“As for the facility that caught fire, it is a private auto body repair shop. As you are all aware, the government only has one official derelict vehicle site and that is the site on Marshall Road that we intend to relocate. I look forward to receiving the report to ascertain what happened and the Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) has also been asked to go out to the site just to have a look because I am not entirely sure whether it is a scrap metal export operation controlled by Customs or just an auto body repair store.

“But we will have a look at the matter and yes, we are always concerned when we have fires of that magnitude.”

There have been a number of complaints from residents in the area who have called for a major crackdown on these types of operations that they maintain pose significant harm to them.

However, Mr. Dorsett explained that shutting down or forcing these privately owned commercial sites to relocate is not that simple.

“The reality is, it a commercial property that has been licensed to conduct its operations,” Mr. Dorsett said.

“I think that hind sight is always 20/20 and for our country that has developed its commercial enterprises in ad hoc manner without proper land planning these are the sort of circumstances that you are faced with from time to time. But I think that the reality is we have to examine the facts and determine the best way forward.”

A team of officials from DEHS are expected to conduct an assessment of the site.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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