People helping fires

People helping fires

05 March 2010

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Trinidad/Tobago —   Forestry officials are warning the public if they continue to carelessly discard items which can cause bush fires, it would be to the entire country’s detriment in the future. The warning comes in the light of many fires that have been raging all over the country due to the severe dry season.

One official who spoke on condition of anonymity said one of the major issues they have had to deal with is bush fires near roadside areas. “This is mainly because you would get a presence of people and their actions of tossing lighted cigarettes out the windows of vehicles, that cause these fires.

Then there are people who burn debris at the side of the road or who dump garbage at the side of the road including wooden items or plastic, which all accelerate fires,” the official said. If this wanton carelessness continues, it would adversely affect the nation.

“Major fires strip the land of tree and bush cover and when the rains come, there is nothing to hold the earth from the volume of water and you get flooding and landslides. So we must do everything possible to limit bush fires. Don’t throw lighted cigarette butts into the bushes. Don’t throw garbage on the roadside. Don’t set fire to garbage on the roadside,” the official advised. “You need to be mindful of the fact that your action can have a serious negative reaction later on.” He added that the fires can also affect the nation’s water supply as the forest is one of the main sources for water. “We are making a bad situation worse, the water problem can only worsen if we damage or destroy our forest.

“After a dry season the forest needs to recharge and these fires are leaving little recharge which means the water is going to be more expensive and difficult to treat which can cause further problems,” he explained. The official admitted they are not equipped to deal with roadside fires as they are unpredictable.

“Those fires need water, you cannot approach it directly as wind changes make them become unpredictable and very dangerous. With fires in forested areas we have more control,” he said.

He noted that some of the tools they use to tackle the fires include back pumps and fire beaters which he said is useful in “achieving a quick knock down of the fire.” He also pointed out that animals are also affected during these intense fires.

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