Fiji — BUSHfires have become a concern for the authorities as the Western and Northern divisions get into the dry season. There has been an increase in grass or bushfires recently in the two divisions.
Apart from being a threat to people’s houses and lives, these bushfires also harm the environment, the vegetation and can affect the economy if not controlled. Considering the increase in bushfires,
some of which arise from uncontrolled burning of rubbish, The Fiji Times gives you a look today into its dangers and prevention.
IT is that time of the year when bushfires are a common occurrence in the country, especially in the drier Western and Northern divisions.
While bushfires are known to have claimed lives and destroyed several properties in other countries, there has not been any major disaster arising from it in Fiji so far.
Apart from the destruction of a building in Nadi in 2010 from a fire which spread because of uncontrolled burning of rubbish, there are no other reports of major damage to property.
There has also not been any loss of lives arising from bushfires in the country, according to the National Fire Authority.
But whenever there is a report of a bushfire, then it surely does raise concerns in the community and also for the NFA.
Last week, a bushfire in an area between Lautoka and Ba concerned residents of the farming area and other organisations.
Known as the drier part of the country, parts of the Western Division are prone to bushfires, which are mainly caused by uncontrolled burning of rubbish or carelessness.
The bushfire at Tuvu last week went on for a few days, resulting in residents also joining the NFA in the attempt to stop it spreading further.
Concerns were raised by residents and a non-government organisation on the harmful effects of the bushfire.
The concerns included possible destruction of houses, the vegetation, environment and livestock in the cane farming area.
The NFA expressed concern on the careless burning of rubbish by members of the community, which pose a serious threat to nearby properties and peoples lives.
NFA chief executive officer John O’Connor said firefighters attended to the bushfire in Tuvu, which threatened nearby properties in the area.
“Recently, there has been an increase in grass/bushfires attended to by the NFA in the Western and Northern divisions,” he said.
Mr O’Connor said the country was in the dry season now and he urged members of the community to exercise extreme care when burning rubbish near their properties.
“Careless attitude by people when burning rubbish have resulted in fire spreading and can lead to property fires.
“It is therefore important that people properly dispose of their rubbish.
“When burning rubbish in your compound, please keep a close watch over the burning until completed.
“And always keep buckets of water nearby to completely extinguish the fire or in readiness in case the fire gets out of hand.”
Mr O’Connor urged people to take heed of the advice.
He said people should stop burning grass, rubbish and cane unnecessarily, as this compromises the safety of the environment, property and members of the community.
With the dry season starting now, especially in the Western and Northern divisions, people have been urged to take all precautions when burning rubbish.
Carelessly throwing cigarette butts, especially while travelling in the drier areas of the country, can also ignite a destructive fire.