Mon | Jul 26, 2021

Troublesome Negril Morass fire burns out

Published:Tuesday | April 6, 2021 | 12:16 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor

WESTERN BUREAU:

The fire that broke out at the Negril Morass in Westmoreland on Saturday, blanketing the resort town in thick smoke for much of the Easter weekend, has completely burnt out, much to the delight of hoteliers.

“It burned for two days and we had a lot of soot that messed up the place … . The smoke pollution affected some of the properties . I don’t think we lost a lot of business because the people who were coming here for the Easter weekend would have been here already when the fire started,” said hotelier Richard Wallace, president of the Negril Chamber of Commerce.

Wallace said that the morass ignites annually – sometimes twice for the year – usually due to spontaneous combustion or caused by people who use the area for a number of reasons, including farming.

“While the fire tends to go out after two days and doesn’t significantly affect our tourism product, from an environmental standpoint, it is cause for much concern because of the damage to plant and animal life in the morass. These fires usually kill plants and animals – fish, turtles, birds, and crabs,” he said.

Firefighters who monitored the fire on Saturday and Sunday told The Gleaner that it was allowed to burn itself out late Sunday afternoon.

“We expect the smoke to linger for a little while, but except for that, the situation is back to normal,” one firefighter from the Negril Fire Station said yesterday.

Hoteliers anxious

The morass fire had caused hoteliers became quite anxious, especially those with visitors with respiratory issues, who would have been inconvenienced by the thick smoke blanketing the southern side of the resort town.

Wallace said that the fire in the morass generally happens whenever there is a protracted dry period, which usually resulted in a lowering of the water level.

He said that the National Environment and Planning Agency has designed a plan to keep the water level in the morass at a fairly safe level to limit the scope for fires under an IWECo project.

News of the fire was reported on the popular Travel Advisor website, with some persons having bookings to visit Negril expressing concern as photos of the fire were circulated.

“Just read about the morass burning in Negril, it seems pretty bad … we are leaving for Negril in two weeks and wondering about this. Anyone in Negril have any info?” wrote Deenann John, a prospective visitor from New York.

adrian@gleanerjm.com