News

Blaze under control, but firefighters keep watch on Jack's Hill

BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter matthewsk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, July 29, 2014    

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OFFICERS of the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) were last evening still monitoring sections of Jack's Hill, St Andrew, after they were able to bring under control a massive blaze that residents described as the worst ever in the area.

Emilio Ebanks, communication officer of the JFB, said the fire that destroyed millions of dollars worth of crops and threatened several houses was brought under control by a more than 24-hour operation by firefighters, assisted by personnel from the Jamaica Defence Force and National Water Commission.

Ebanks said, however, that work had still not ended as there were small pockets of fire in remote sections of the community.

"Fires close to most of the property have been brought under control, but there are some areas that firefighters will continue to monitor as they cannot be accessed at this time because of the topography of the area," said Ebanks.

Jack's Hill residents watched nervously last evening as a thick pall of smoke hung over some sections of the community. The popping sound of fire bursting through dry wood could be heard all around as thick black soot covered the roofs of some houses.

"Right now, I don't know how I am going to sleep tonight," said Janet Gayle, who pointed to small pockets of fire, helped by dry bushes and thick overgrown vegetation.

"The last 24 hours was one of the worst times of my life. Sunday when the fire began to spread all I could do was to watch and pray," said Gayle, who said she was forced to spend hours trying to console her granddaughter who cried openly as the flames surrounded their house,

"I have been living in this community for quite a while, and this was one of the worst fires that we have seen in the area," said Jack's Hill resident Yvonne Mullings, as she nervously looked at sections of the burnt-out hillside.

Michael Allen, meanwhile, said he felt helpless as he watched the angry flames around a section of his house that continued to grow despite efforts from firefighters, whom he said bravely fought the raging inferno.

Rackesta Brown, a farmer, after a nervous and sleepless night, said he got up early yesterday morning and got rid of overgrown vegetation that was near his property. "Right now I am not leaving anything to chance," said the farmer as he toiled away with his hoe.

Ebanks, meanwhile, assure residents that, despite pulling some of their units from the area, the JFB would be carrying out regular visits to monitor the area and to respond to any developments.

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