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May 19, 2014
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Residents urged to stop burning coal, bush
Deon P. Green, STAR Writer

With 13 persons left homeless in St Thomas because of fire and some $8.4 million in losses in April, the St Thomas Fire Department is appealing to residents to desist from burning coal in residential areas or starting bush fires.

Head of the St Thomas Fire Department, Deputy Superintendent Densil Roper, says in April alone, some $561m in property and belongings was saved by the department.

Roper told THE STAR: "The people in St Thomas need to desist from setting fires to burn coal. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw coal burning in a residential area. I am asking persons to report these fires."

The fire boss also expressed concerns about the elderly, two of whom were burnt to death in the parish earlier this year. "There were no fire-related deaths last month in the parish but I am very concerned about the elderly. One person being burnt to death is too many. A 76-year-old lady was burnt to death in Retreat. Relatives need to keep close to their elderly relatives who live alone so that assistance can be rendered in times of need."

He added that the issue of public safety is the responsibility of everyone and not just the fire department or the police. "The community at large needs to look out for people, especially the elderly and children, as public safety is everyone's responsibility," he said.

In an effort to reduce the number of house and bush fires in St Thomas, the fire chief wants more community training but is restricted by resources.

"Currently, we are doing two (training) each month and we need to do at least five, to let people know what to do in their local situations in the event of a fire, but we are hampered by resources," he said.

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