St. John’s Antigua- Although the brush fire damage to the Body Pond area on Tuesday evening was deemed minuscule, the fire chief said he is not ruling out the possibility of arson.
“It could be spontaneous or it can be carelessness, it can also be willful,” Fire Chief Sylvester Jackson said in an interview with OBSERVER Media. He added, “We are not actually certain as to what triggered off these wild bush fires.”
The fire that spread through the hillside of the Bendals area did not threaten the delicate Sustainable Island Resource Management Mechanism watershed demonstration project and eventually extinguished itself.
“The fire was in the hillside. It was difficult to access the roads to that fire, so we watched it burn itself out. The men did not actually get close to the scene of the fire,” the fire chief said.
Although an immediate cause is unknown, Jackson admitted that the blaze could have been due to the persistent drought conditions on island.
Jackson also noted that the public should take some semblance of responsibility to solve arson cases, saying, “No one is around at the arrival of the fire brigade to give any information and as to how these types of fires started. No one seems to want to take responsibility.”
This is the second such fire in as many months. In the Father’s Day blaze in June, the watershed project was decimated as 10 acres of fruits trees went up in smoke—the origin of that inferno is still unknown.
Forestry Officer, Adriel Thibou, however, said he does not believe the fires were set “deliberately by someone to affect the project”, but rather, they were started by persons attempting to clear lands.
Thibou noted that the demonstration site is on the rebound, with 12 new acres of fruit trees being planted since. Students participating in the police sponsored Youth Intervention Equal Initiative are assisting the forestry division in that effort.