The parish of St. James is burning from an unprecedented number of bushfires.

Presenting a monthly report to the St. James Municipal Corporation’s regular Council Meeting on Thursday, March 9, 2023, former Acting Superintendent Everett Montaque related that up to this month, the fire brigade had to respond to over 120 bushfires.

This number outweighed the 88 bushfires that the brigade responded to for the entire month of February. Last month there were 18 bushfire calls for the Coral Gardens area, 13 each for the Sign – Orange – Adelphi area, 12 each for Westgate, Anchovy, and Montpelier, and seven for Cornwall Courts.

“But for this month, already we have responded to 122 bush fire calls,” he reported. Coral Gardens has had 21 so far, Westgate Hills 14, Cornwall Court nine, Greenwood and Ramble-Sign 18 each, and Anchovy 24.

The Ramble-Burnt Ground area is said to be “one of the troubled areas” as there’s a man there who constantly sets fires to his property despite being spoken to on several occasions. That matter has since been reported to the police for legal action.

Councilor Charles Sinclair, a seasoned attorney, advised that in legislation, there was “The Country Fire Act,” which made it an offense to set fires to crops or trash, being negligent on the use of fire and that “it is a criminal offense” for which persons can be prosecuted.

The fire officer stated that the firefighting suppression team “responded to a whopping 263 emergencies,” 205 of those being genuine calls. He said 143 of those genuine calls resulted from bushfires, 16 malicious false alarms, 14 false alarms with good intent, eight motor vehicle accidents, and 20 emergency medical services.

Regarding equipment, he said of 16 fire-fighting apparatus in the division, ten were operable while six units “are in the shop for minor repairs.”

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Civic and Community Affairs Committee, Dwight Crawford, is giving an assurance that the smoke seen across south-western Montego Bay in recent days has been due to persons burning coal and the fire getting out of hand and not a problem emanating from the Retirement Land Fill.

Appealing to the persons involved to either cease their operation until the weather condition becomes more conducive or control their burning activities, Cllr Crawford pointed out that the fire service could not access some of the areas where this is being carried out.

And, St. James has a new divisional commander, with Interim Senior Superintendent, Conroy Ganze taking over from Rudolph Seaton, who has been reassigned duty in Westmoreland.


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