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Apr 15, 2019

Brushfires Popping Up Everywhere; Fire Department Issues Notice

The Belize National Fire Service is today imploring for residents to practice responsible burning and maintenance of properties, particularly within rural and countryside areas. The notice comes on the heels of an overwhelming weekend for fighters who responded to a number of brushfires as well as unsupervised fires across the country. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

It’s the dry season and annually along highways and major thoroughfares, brushfires have been popping up—and sometimes coming dangerously close to residential lots. Smoke at times can be seen from a distance away as fires rage and spread. Over the weekend, there were as many as twenty brushfires that the department responded to and it is of great concern.


Orin Smith

Orin Smith, Station Officer, Belize National Fire Service

“The weekend was filled with response by the Fire Department across the country. This is not necessary and our resources are limited. We can’t be everywhere at the same time. For the city, we have two trucks and one in Ladyville. The Ladyville unit is presently undergoing maintenance. The unit there is a smaller unit with an even smaller tank capacity. For assistance of the many bushfires there, it would take some time before a city unit is dispatched and reach that location as was the case over the weekend. Vegetation fires occur more easily in the dry season due to warm winds, high temperature and low relative humidity. The problem is they practice reckless unsupervised burning that recklessly endangers the property of others.”


Aside from the destructive nature of fires, there also public health factors associated with brushfires and even those that are deliberately set. In the latter, Station Officer Orin Smith says that it is a reckless practice by landowners, who take advantage of this weather to clear their property, using fire.


Orin Smith

“To the land owners, do not burn on high wind conditions. Cut the area to be burned, clear and pile in smaller, manageable piles. Have buckets or drums of water on hand with sufficient assistance and control the burning. Extinguish any remaining fires after burning is complete. To the homeowners, if you have nylon sieve on your window, remove them so that airborne ash does not land on them and set them ablaze. Keep windows closed. Maintain a clear cut to ground four feet clearance around the outer perimeter and around the house itself. Keep the lawn cut very low; this will prevent ashes from nearby fires, setting them ablaze and reduce the threat of fire to your home. These smokes are dangerous. You might have asthmatic individuals within the community, you may have elderly individuals that can be affected by these smokes, you may have young toddlers within the home. Hence the reason I implore, practice responsible burning and not this reckless behaviour we have adopted to.”


Going into the extended weekend, Smith also gave a safety tip for homeowners who will be leaving their houses unattended.


Orin Smith

“A lot of individuals will be vacationing or spending the holidays abroad. Disconnect any electrical device that is not necessary to be on when you are out. Often one of the most common devices that requires to be on is the refrigerator and that of your security system. If you do not need to have any other electronic or electrical device within the home on, disconnect them to prevent unnecessary accident by fire within the home.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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