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Mavis Bank coffee farmers say fire will cost billions

Published:Friday | May 8, 2015 | 5:57 PMLivern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
Two motor cyclists survey the damage to property in Flamstead, Mavis Bank in St Andrew

Long-time coffee farmer, Joan Gordon-Webley, says the bush fires sweeping across several communities in east rural St Andrew since last Saturday could leave billions of dollars in losses.

She says this would deliver a major blow to Jamaica's world-renowned coffee industry.

On a visit to the area today, Gordon-Webley, who spoke on behalf of farmers, said several of them have lost their entire crop.

She said this is the worst fire coffee farmers in many years.

The former Member of Parliament for east rural St Andrew says the industry will take big hit as a result of the fire and it may take years before things return to normal.

 

Coffee Farmer, Joan Gordon-Webley

Gordon-Webley also said the massive fire may have wider implications for the economy.

 

Coffee farmer, Joan Gordon-Webley

It is still unclear how the fire started, but it’s believed that it began last Saturday in the community of Mount Charles and quickly spread to sections of Mavis Bank, Tower Hill and Flamstead.

District officer for the Jamaica Fire Brigade Patrick Levy says  windy conditions, the hilly terrain and poor water supply have left the men and women under his command almost powerless to fight the blaze.

The Jamaica Defence Force was brought in today to help fight the fire but by midday the JDF chopper that was being used to douse some of the worst affected areas with buckets of water was reportedly grounded because of high winds.

However, the fire, is now said to be under control.