Jamaica — Yet another senior fire official is calling on the police to lock up those who deliberately set fires to prepare land for planting.
Commonly known as ‘slash and burn’ the practice is reportedly behind the large number of bush fires which affected hundreds of acres in Manchester and St Elizabeth and caused the destruction of several properties during the prolonged drought between late November and early April.
An impassioned Assistant Superintendent Livingston Morgan of the Manchester Fire Department told the Observer recently that for the month of March alone, there were 252 genuine fire calls, and 229 of these were bush fires.
These fires did not just act up, because theres hardly any flint stone at all in these areas so it must be lit by somebody. Most times it is farmers that are starting these fires because theyve gotten so lazy, they dont want to weed or clean up the land to plant so someone will go to the bottom of the hill and light a fire and it will spread. This is a no-no and it must stop. I believe its about time that people are prosecuted for it, people must be jailed for it because this is putting an enormous amount of pressure on the system, Morgan said.
The assistant superintendent said in February this year, there were 141 genuine fire calls in Manchester, with damage estimated at $9 million.
The 229 bush fires reported last month were nearly 100 more than the total number of genuine fires in the parish in February.
If this was happening in America, this wouldnt be so, and someone would be prosecuted for the fires its the Brigade that gets the blame in the end, after the fact, he told the Observer.
A dejected Wilbert Hutchinson looks at his escellion farm which was ravaged by a bush fire at Ivor Cottage in St Elizabeth in March 2008. (Observer file photo)
This house in Hatfield Manchester was gutted by fire two weeks ago.