Jolyn Bryan, Gleaner Writer
ALBION, St Thomas:
ON JANUARY 7, 2013, the home of Uriel Hamilton, wife Janice, and his three children, located in Albion, St Thomas, was destroyed by fire. Six other persons were affected by the loss of the four-bedroom board structure. A motor car belonging to another relative was also destroyed. The fire was discovered at approximately 3:30 p.m. that day, but very little could be done to put it out.
Although the family is without a home, hope is present as they have been receiving invaluable help from the members of the community as well as from the Albion Seventh-day Adventist Church. The church and the community have pooled their efforts and have contributed building materials, household items, and manual labour. It is expected that the house will be completed before the end of this month.
Fires such as the one that destroyed the Hamiltons' house have become a major concern for the Jamaica Fire Brigade stationed in Yallahs. According to information received from the station, there have been 137 hazardous fires in the Albion, Southhaven, and Woodbourne areas since the beginning of January. All of them have posed a considerable threat to life and property in these areas. Denvil Porteous, district officer for Yallahs, believes that most fire hazards are caused by a disregard for the dangers of fire.
"It all depends on what we use fire for. People aren't serious about fire; they don't respect the dangers of it," the firefighter says.
Porteous' advice is that no one should light fires at this time, especially bush fires, which have the potential to spread quickly and become out of control. If something must be burnt, it is better to do so in an incinerator, which will keep the fire contained. Drought and water shortages, as well as the wind, compound the problem of controlling and putting out hazardous fires.
Porteous also had this advice to give: "Build a firebreak around your property boundary. Clear away shrubs and flammable material so that it is more difficult for the fire to get to your home and damage it."
The Fire Department has some useful tips to help prevent fires. These include:
By following these rules and exercising care when dealing with fires, it is possible to reduce the danger to life and property. It also reduces the cost on the national Budget, which covers such things as repair and replacement of public buildings, the upkeep of fire engines, and other paraphernalia used in the fight against fire hazards. With the cooperation of the public, it is hoped that the number of fires in the Yallahs area will be decreased significantly.