BAMSI crops badly hit by Andros fire

THE Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) said 75 per cent of its mangoes, 40 per cent of livestock pastures and 30 bee hives were destroyed when a fire ripped through forests this month. 

Non-bearing avocado crops were also destroyed. 

BAMSI said it suffered minimal damage to its North Andros campus after the fire, which started in bushes on April 10, adding that no animals or buildings were affected.

Officials extinguished the fire on Saturday night.

“Thanks to the valiant staff at BAMSI, the coconut groves on the campus were saved,” BAMSI said in a statement. 

“A special thanks is given to the team at BAMSI, NEMA, the Royal Bahamas Police Force and other private citizens as they were also instrumental in preventing further spread to the campus and other surrounding areas.

“BAMSI officials say they are committed to replacing the destroyed crops and will be ready for full face-to-face learning this fall.”

As the fire raged, some residents left their homes. Some people’s sleep patterns were affected by taking turns watching the fire. 

On Thursday, NEMA sent a 2000-gallon fire truck to the island to help fight the fire. 

On Friday, Chief Superintendent Bradbary Styles, officer in charge of the Andros district, said firefighters were monitoring and extinguishing the blaze in areas that are accessible. Mr Styles explained that forest fires that have burned for several days will run their course until they burn out.

At the time, he said the forest fire was contained in the settlements near San Andros and Nicholls Town.

When asked how communication with residents has been, Mr Styles said: “Residents have continued to contact the station and/or the volunteer firefighters to report where they see the fire coming close to either their properties or their businesses and they’re assisting by giving us that information. We proceed there either with the fire truck and/or heavy equipment operators who would create what is called a ‘fire breach’ around that particular property.”

Andros Chamber of Commerce President Darrin Bethel told The Tribune on Friday that the fire was under control, thanks to a collected effort, including the assistance of firefighters from New Providence.

Mr Bethel thanked the community of North Andros and volunteers working independently as well as firefighters for bringing the forest fire under control.

North Andros and Berry Islands Member of Parliament (MP) Leonardo Lightbourne said wild fires are a legacy issue, describing this most recent fire as “one of the largest they’ve seen in a long time”. Residents said the MP was present on the island assisting with the management of firefighting efforts and providing meals in support.