Bahamas — Persons had to be evacuated yesterday after a small bush fire raged into a burning inferno threatening several local businesses located on the corner of West Sunrise Hwy. and Bahamian Way.
Former Senator, Michael Pintard, who is a tennant in one of the buildings explained that his landlord lost thousands of dollars as a result of the blaze that burned out a 40ft. trailer at the rear of the building.
“Grand Bahama should never be in this position where there are inadequate amount of fire engines to address concerns like the one we have today,” Pintard told The Freeport News.
“A number of families will be adversely affected as a result of what is happening … businesses will have to close as a result of what is going on today. It is tragic.”
He noted that if this event does not move policy makers in the business community to change the condition being experienced locally, “then they are not worth being in the position that they are in, and I don’t care what side they’re from.”
“This is a sad day. … we just lost a church recently. I’m not aware that some extraordinary steps were taken in the aftermath of loosing a very important church in this community in order to ensure that what happened a few weeks ago does not repeat itself.
“I heard a lot of talk … I’m not certain any serious action was taken and so it is my hope in the aftermath of this that the community puts pressure on the policy makers in the business community in order to deal with this,” Pintard said.
Pintard estimated that $50,000 – $60,000 was destroyed in a trailer at the rear of the business office he is renting from a local businessman on the corner of West Sunrise and Bahamian Way.
Supplies in the 40-foot trailer included mable countertops, cabinets and other building material.
“If you know this (brush fires) happens every year, then you have to make preparations … everyone in the community must make preparation.”
When The Freeport News team arrived on the scene thick black smoke blanketed the area.
Three fire apparatuses were on the scene with a large number of men dressed in firefighting gear battling to control the blaze at the rear of plaza adjacent to the Hawksbill Service Station.
This daily learned that the fire fighters were made up of teams from BORCO, the Freeport Container Port and the local fire brigade and one employee from the service station.
As the inferno continued, heat emanating from the blaze could be felt some 75-feet away. Crews sprayed water in attempts to contain the fire, with the BORCO fire truck pumping foam which immediately crippled the fire.
A female resident of Sunrise Subdivision, who was on the scene recalled the fire burning since Monday evening.
“When I was doing my daily exercise, I saw it.”
Noting that after doing some shopping Tuesday afternoon, she and her daughter noticed that the trailer of the local businessman was on fire.
“So my daughter said to me, ‘mommy this fire is spreading they better be careful.'”
She noted that fire officials were observed traveling back and forth monitoring the fire; however, it appeared as though it got out of hand.
“It was awful … my mom is 88, I had to wash everything … the smoke is really awful and it’s all over the area,” she said.
A male resident said he believes fire officials did a good job trying to contain the situation and keeping the fire from spreading to the service station and its tanks.
Pedro Knowles, of central Freeport, who was on site for some 30 minutes said, “the fire- fighters, are doing the best they can right now and they are getting some help from BORCO.”
However, he noted, “I think they left the fire much too long before controlling it, because this has been going on for more than a week. We cannot speculate on how it started, we have to take it as it is … a fire!”
Carmel McIntosh an employee of Hawksbill Service Station estimated that the blaze became uncontrollable around 2:00 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.
“We asked our pump attendants to remain inside after the heat and smoke become too much to bare,” she added.
McIntosh said she made several calls to the fire department “… before the fire moved from the eastern to the western side of the street, and they took long to get here. The one that finally arrived was a fire truck from the Freeport Container Port.”
She noted that another fire truck arrived later, but it ran out of water.
Michael Russell, a pump attendant at Hawksbill Service Station donned firefighter’s gear and assisted the crews in extinguishing the blaze.
“I noticed that the fire was nearing the station, so I simply went to assist.”
He noted that the blaze was burning from 11:00 a.m., but believed it got out of control around 1:00 p.m.
Russell added that his supervisor made several calls to fire emergency.
Tamera Lockhart, Freeport Container Port Safety officer was also on hand to lend support to her crew. “I came out to assist Mr. Warren Rolle, security supervisor and Mr. Jamison Deveaux … they came out to assist with extinguishing the fire and I must say they did a superb job.”
John Armbrister, senior safety operator at BORCO; Renaldo Simms and Greg LaRoda Jr., worked hand-in-hand with the fire officers to extinguish the fire.
“We had to supply them with foam because our truck don’t carry water,” Armbrister noted. “In an emergency like this we just jump in and do our part.”
While fire officials on the scene were not able to give a cause for the blaze, investigations are continuing in this matter.