Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Increase in deliberate bush fires in Linstead worries fire chief

Published:Friday | March 31, 2017 | 3:00 AM
"What these thieves do is set the fires and pretend as if they are rescuing the animals from the fire and take off with them."
James Lee
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A marginal increase in bush fires in Linstead and the adjoining Charlemont community has become a worrying factor for the Jamaica Fire Brigade's St Catherine division.

Superintendent James Lee, acting divisional head, said his concerns are related to the alleged cause of the bush fires.

"We are getting reports from the residents that these fires are set deliberately by thieves who use the opportunity to steal their livestock," Lee stated.

"I must say that we are not able to substantiate these reports, but we have to get to what is causing the increase in these fires."

According to him, for the first two months of this year, the St Catherine Fire Department responded to 479 fires, and, of the four fire stations in the parish, the only one that recorded an increase was Linstead, with 42 in February up from 39 the previous month.

"I would say that because of the rainy season, calls for bush fires had reduced significantly, except for Linstead," the head of the 217 men strong fire department revealed.

THIEVES SETTING FIRES

Validating Lee's disclosure was president of the Linstead Farmers' Association Clement Dawes, who told The Gleaner that the reports are factual.

"What these thieves do is set the fires and pretend as if they are rescuing the animals from the fire and take off with them," Dawes stated.

He is calling for more police patrols as well as meetings between the police and livestock farmers to devise strategies to counter the problem.

Meanwhile, the Linstead police say the farmers' allegations are being investigated. At the same time, there are plans for a series of meetings with the farmers to discuss how best they can assist the police in combatting this problem.