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FAMILIES HOMELESS AFTER BIMINI BLAZE: Fire displaces eleven families as dysfunctional fire apparatus failed to bring it under control

PM addresses residents on Bimini

By EARYEL BOWLEG

Tribune Staff Reporter

ebowleg@tribunemedia.net

ELEVEN families were displaced after a fire destroyed four homes in Bimini yesterday and exposed the dysfunctional firefighting equipment on the island.

Residents battled the flames with hoses from their homes and buckets of water drawn from the sea. Some cried as the houses burned down but there were no reports of injuries. 

Videos showing the destructive blaze spread across social media on Sunday. 

“I lost everything,” said 36-year-old Danika Cartwright-Weech, a newlywed who moved into her home last month. “I don’t know what happened. All I know is I woke up and my roof was basically on fire; that was it.”

Pastor Oral Ellis recounted waking up to unusual sounds and hearing a neighbour screaming for him to escape the house.

“When I get out the door, I looked up and (the) bedroom upstairs, that was fully engulfed,” he said. “So the only thing I could do was go back into my bedroom. I grabbed my wallet and my phone and my glasses.”

Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis travelled to Bimini with a delegation to assess the damage. In a meeting with victims, he pledged to help them return to normalcy.

Residents said after the fire began around 5am in the Porgy Bay settlement, it spread to multiple densely situated homes.

In addition to the four destroyed structures, three houses were extensively damaged by water and smoke.

Obie Wilchcombe, Minister of Social Services and MP for the island, said officials secured apartments for the displaced residents and money for them to purchase clothing from Mucka Mucks.

“Our social services team has already prepared the slips for you to be able to go to  the shops immediately to purchase food,” he told the residents at a meeting. “Those have been done and are in place now.” 

Inadequate fire equipment angered residents who said the blaze would have been contained with functional equipment.

 “We really need a fire engine truck in Bimini like yesterday,” said Hugh Smith. “A lot of us took a big risk getting burned in the fire and the smoke. Right now when I belch I belching smoke. All my head hurting right now, but if we had firetruck this morning, we only probably would have lose one room in one house but we end up losing five houses and almost lose the big apartment on the next side.”

 Bimini island administrator Desiree Ferguson said the fire had spread uncontrollably by the time some “mobile ones” reached the scene. She suggested Resorts World Bimini sent the units.

 “One didn’t have enough pressure; the other one worked but it wasn’t sufficient water,” she said.

 Mr Wilchcombe said officials know they need to replenish the fleet of fire trucks. He said two mechanics will visit the island to examine the engines of the trucks there.

 “It’s a situation that obviously is as I move unacceptable and it’s one of those things that we have to contend with,” he said.

Hugh Smith, Bimini resident, with West Grand Bahama & Bimini MP Obie Wilchcombe

Comments

mandela 2 months, 1 week ago

What a shame, here we have a little community that sucks in millions of dollars for the treasury. with big resorts and close proximity to the US coast, but doesn't even have ONE workable fire engine. WHAT A SHAME. Now watch how after this disaster they scramble to now take note. Late again, furthermore, the island commissioner should be removed.

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thomas 2 months, 1 week ago

the island commissioner should be removed....You do know that they are just old civil servants who are less productive as they age.

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ScubaSteve 2 months, 1 week ago

Not one working fire truck????? W T H !!!!!!!! This is 110% unacceptable and a complete embarrassment.

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birdiestrachan 2 months, 1 week ago

Where is the local government in all of this should they not see that fire engines are maintained ?

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Flyingfish 2 months, 1 week ago

This is a failure of planning and local government practices that were established in the 1800s.

You don't even need a firetruck, plenty of European countries have fire wagons that are horse or bike drawn and even ones you can hitch to the back of any vehicle. Whoever is responsible whether it be the island administrator or chief councilor should offer their resignation.

Island Councilors need to take their jobs seriously, as well as be given the power to make necessary changes. Many times people on the council want to make changes but can't facilitate them due to the limited powers local government has.

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JokeyJack 2 months, 1 week ago

Dysfunctional fire equipment from a dysfunctional government. LOL. What else would you expect.. Anyway - people dem riding the wave with Brave. They say Lincoln selling dreams. This fire seem like nightmare though - LOL..

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ScullyUFO 2 months, 1 week ago

In a civilized country the lack of suitable firefighting equipment is simply unacceptable.

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ExposedU2C 2 months, 1 week ago

Which civilized country are you referring to?

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SP 2 months, 1 week ago

Obie Wilchcombe couldn't manage an ant farm!

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