Since October, the Marsh Harbour Fire Department, lead by its two co-fire chiefs, Jessica Cook and Danny Sawyer, have fought three major fires.
At the beginning of the year, two fires in the Mudd destroyed a huge number of shanty houses; the third one started on Ernest Dean Highway during the Easter weekend and took more than a week to control. Fueled by a strong south-west wind it threatened Bahama Coral Island, Great Cistern and Murphy Town as well as some structures on the highway, among them an abandoned propane gas business with containers left on the grounds that caused fears of explosion.
Co-Fire Chief Jessica Cook said the volunteers had to fight and monitor the blaze every day since it started adding that it did not completely die down until the April 10 rain showers.
The fire started in a forested area across from an auto shop and was hard to reach because of the small roads that made it difficult for the fire trucks to enter. She said that to complicate the situation there was no water supply on site.
The fire kept going north, but she thought that at one point it was contained until a fierce wind started on April 7, transforming the smoldering into a blaze that reached the two sides of the highway in a matter of one hour.
From that late morning and during the night of April 7 to 8 a crew of twelve volunteers and three fire trucks fought the fire which was being pushed through the forest towards the eastern settlements. Ashes were falling on Murphy Town and Great Cistern and concerned residents were ready with hoses to wet the dry vegetation around their houses.
Cook commented that they had to returned to Marsh Harbour to replenish the trucks. She added that the closest fire hydrants were in Central Pines, but that out of the six hydrants located in that area, only two were working.
Besides more hydrants outside of Marsh Harbour, she said that more man-power is also needed. The Fire Department is willing to train new recruits who could be as young as sixteen/ seventeen years old. A course could be put together for a minimum of five people, but interested persons could stop at the fire house when it is opened for a quick briefing.
Jessica Cook can be reached at 577- 8643 and Co-chief Danny Sawyer at 477- 5901.
The dispatch number is still 367- 2000.
Ms. Cook wishes to thank the people who brought snacks and drinks while the volunteers were trying to control the fire.