VIDEO: Tense moments as hill fire rages on

BY PAUL HENRY Crime/Court Desk co-ordinator editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

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FIREFIGHTERS yesterday received reinforcement from Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldiers in battling the blaze that has been devastating large swaths of hillside communities in East Rural St Andrew.


JDF members from the 1st Engineer Regiment joined the battle to stem the fire at around 6:00 am yesterday and were kept busy all day as the fire, being pushed by heavy wind, ran wild in various communities, including Guava Ridge, Violet Gap and Tower Hill over five miles away.


There were tense moments in Guava Ridge and Tower Hill as residents, firefighters and army men tried to save houses from being burnt by the raging fire.


Several residents were marooned in their homes in Guava Ridge as the intense flames surrounded their houses and torched green trees before spreading to higher ground.


At one point, as the flames fanned out, soldiers and firemen had to run for their lives, leaving their equipment.


Wildfires have been burning in the area and other communities in Mavis Bank and Flamstead for the past two weeks, destroying homes and hundreds of acres of coffee.


The Coffee Industry Board is to conduct a tour of the affected areas today.


As the stubborn fire raged, one woman was adamant yesterday that it was God's warning to the "wicked people".


"God could have stopped this. This is a warning! You think Father God couldn't stop this?" she asked no one in particular as she sought refuge from the thick smoke and intense heat. "Other people getting the earthquake, we getting the fire. We too wicked!"


The fire in Violet Gap started last Saturday after a man reportedly lit an area to clear land for farming.


 

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