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Smoke from Coral Harbour fire halts flights at LPIA for nearly two hours

Smoke from a bush fire near Odyssey Aviation is seen from Coral Harbour Rd yesterday. Heavy smoke lead to a closure of Lyden Pindling Ineternational Airport for almost two hours. Photo: Dante Carrer/Tribune Staff

Smoke from a bush fire near Odyssey Aviation is seen from Coral Harbour Rd yesterday. Heavy smoke lead to a closure of Lyden Pindling Ineternational Airport for almost two hours. Photo: Dante Carrer/Tribune Staff

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Chief Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

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The Lynden Pindling International Airport control tower is obscured by smoke from a bush fire along Coral Harbour Rd on May 14, 2024. Photo: Dante Carrer/Tribune Staff

A FOREST fire in Coral Harbour caused temporary flight disruptions at the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) and power interruptions across western New Providence yesterday.

Around 11am, LPIA officials urged passengers to brace for flight delays after announcing a nearly three-hour suspension of air traffic control services due to low air visibility in the area.

Local meteorologists told The Tribune the visibility levels dropped below a mile yesterday morning.

Videos showed pilots informing their passengers inbound for New Providence of the flight delays due to visibility concerns.

While airport operations returned to normal around 1pm, some schools were dismissed early or remained closed due to the high smoke concentration.

At Gambier Primary School, parents were asked to pick up their children after noon for safety reasons.

Meanwhile, Keith Carroll, president of the National Fishing Association, said he and other fishermen spent most of Monday night watching the fire closely to ensure the safety of their equipment.

He said while there was no damage to their traps or supplies, fishermen remained on high alert.

“According to how it be tonight, we’ll probably spend half of the night here too watching them; as long as it takes until we feel it’s safe,” Mr Carroll said.

Director of Fire Services Chief Superintendent Kendrick Morris said while the blaze was not contained, it did not pose an immediate threat to nearby residents.

BPL said it executed an emergency shutdown of several primary feeders in western New Providence because the fire was affecting its transmission and distribution lines, with some poles lost and several lines damaged.

The areas affected included Coral Harbour North, Caves Village, Sandy Port, Sea Beach and West Place #1.

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Firefighters work to extinguish a bush fire near Odyssey Aviation on May 14, 2024. Photo: Dante Carrer/Tribune Staff

BPL senior manager Arnette Ingraham said service was rerouted from other parts of the network to restore supply as crews worked to replace damaged poles.

“The rerouting of customers may result in periods of supply interruption to ensure we do not overload our circuits,” she said yesterday evening.

The blaze is the latest in a series of fires in the country. Last week, firefighting resources were stretched to fight a fire at a scrap metal yard on Joe Farrington Road. 

In April, a forest fire forced some residents in Andros to leave their homes over health concerns.

 That month, four separate fires in the Marsh Harbour and Spring City areas of Abaco temporarily forced the closure of the island’s main road. At one point, volunteers spent over 30 hours battling the fires.

 Over the weekend, the government sent a fire truck to Abaco to battle another blaze that erupted there.

 Abaco residents reported light rainfall yesterday and said the fires were contained.

 Chief meteorological officer Kaylinda Ward-Forbes said yesterday that bushfires around this time of the year are not uncommon given the hot, dry temperatures.

 She said the lack of rain has not helped. 

 “It is our dry season, and we haven’t had much precipitation, so the underbrush is very dry, so sometimes it just takes a spark,” she said. “You could have a piece of glass bottle in the intense heat. As you could already see, we’re already touching the 90s temperature-wise without any precipitation.”

 Lyrone Burrows, president and CEO at Bahamas Aviation, Climate and Severe Weather Network (BACSWN), also commented on the blaze, saying: “Our heart goes out to residents of southwest New Providence in the Coral Harbour and Albany areas. We extend our best to the firefighters who are currently persisting in attempting to quell the blaze, and we’re hopeful that weather conditions will be cooperative as such that it will be able to assist in the quelling of the wildfires and the resulting smoke emanating from it. We are also hopeful that the impact on the aviation community, especially those landing and taking off from LPIA, that the impact for the sector is minimised over the coming days.”

Comments

Bonefishpete 6 days ago

"Local meteorologists told The Tribune the visibility levels dropped below a mile yesterday morning."

What no ILS landing system? Nations Capital Airport?

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