Unusually frequent rainfall in the dry season has brought about a significant decrease in bush fires in South Trinidad this year. In the past two months there were fewer than 100 bush fires throughout the southland. During the same period last year fire officers were called out to 210 fires, officials said yesterday. “We have not had many bush fires this year as a result of the frequent rains, but now that the rains have ceased we have been getting a lot of calls,” a senior fire officer, who requested anonymity, told the Daily Express on Monday. One of the big fires occurred on Sunday afternoon when residents of Gopaul Lands, Marabella complained of thick smoke from a nearby field. Officers attached to the Mon Repos Fire Division responded to the call, bringing relief to scores of affected residents. Meteorologist Emmanuel Mulchan explained that weather patterns did not observe dates. “Many times in the past there have been extensions of or fluctuations in rainy or dry seasons. There is usually a transition between the wet and dry season. That transition could last two weeks, one month, or even six weeks. It all depends on nature,” he said. Mulchan noted that this year the transition period lasted longer than expected. He added that projections carried out for weather patterns over the next three months indicated that rainfall would be “close to normal”. The senior fire officer said last year the season was much drier with a higher number of bush fires than normal. “This year we have not been having any serious fires,” he said. He added that people who wished to set fires to burn rubbish should seek permission from the Fire Service. “They should come to the fire station where they will be issued with a fire permit,” he advised. Once granted, he said, fire guardians would then inspect the land and make sure it was prepared in the proper way before a fire was lit. “Fire guardians will give advice about the time fires should be lit, ensure there is nothing nearby that can ignite and that there is a supply of water available if it is necessary,” the fire officer said. He said most bush fires were caused by indiscriminate burning or carelessly discarding cigarette butts. “People need to be more careful because apart from the immediate damage to the environment, there are also after-effects such as flooding when the rains come,” he said.