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Bush fire fury

In the past weeks the trend of bush fires has been rampant. As the temperatures rise during the day, these fires ignite, naturally or by human influence, and spread within seconds.

A forest fire/bush fire/wildfire is a fire that burns in grass, bush or woodland and has the potential to threaten life, property and the environment.

There are several factors that cause a bush fire to thrive. Any fire needs fuel and with dried leaf litter (leaves, twigs, branches) on the ground along with the fresh vegetation, flames can grow and spread. Wind speed, low humidity and topography can cause a flame to spread faster hence most times we will see bush fires spreading up on mountains.

If you live in an area that is prone to bush fires, there are several precautions that you can take to prevent harm to you and your family. Some of these tips are:

  1. Do not start any small fires around your home.
  2. Trim trees and discard old branches. Keep around your home tidy by sweeping up fallen leaves regularly.
  3. Keep lawn and landscaping trimmed low.
  4. Create deliberate fire breaks around your property by clearing all vegetation strategically by ploughing or grading a border that will inhibit the flame.
  5. Create an emergency escape plan just in case you need to exit your home quickly.

If there is an uncontrollable bush fire, ensure that you evacuate the area and alert the fire services, Forestry Division or the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM). Dust masks should be used to prevent respiratory illnesses since air quality will be compromised. Secure your pets as well. In Trinidad and Tobago, our bush fire season generally lasts from December 1 to June 30.

According to the Agricultural Fires Act (Act 20 of 1965), to light a fire during this time frame requires a permit. If a fire is started without a permit, you can be fined from $1,500 to $20,000 and even six months’ imprisonment.

Farmers are advised not to carry out slash and burn practices and keep barrels of water nearby in case it is needed to extinguish a small flame.

Send questions to rayannaboodram@hotmail.com