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‘Is there a boat arsonist on the loose?’ – Fire Chief ponders

- Property owners urged to up safety & security measures
Recent spate of boat fires arouses suspicions of arsonist/s being on the loose on Tortola. Photo: VINO/File
Chief Fire Officer Mr Zebulon A. McLean said that they are still at the phase of preliminary investigations of the recent fires which claimed a few vessels and a bedroom of a home. Photo: VINO/File
Chief Fire Officer Mr Zebulon A. McLean said that they are still at the phase of preliminary investigations of the recent fires which claimed a few vessels and a bedroom of a home. Photo: VINO/File
Property owners are advised to ensure certain appliances are unplugged before leaving home or going to bed. Photo: File
Property owners are advised to ensure certain appliances are unplugged before leaving home or going to bed. Photo: File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – As a consequence of a recent spate of fires which resulted in the destruction of a number of boats Chief Fire Officer Mr Zebulon A. McLean and his team are not omitting from their investigations the possibility of arsonist/s being on the loose on Tortola.

He was at the time giving a brief update on preliminary investigations into the fires which destroyed two boats on Sunday night (May 18, 2014) at Frenchman’s Cay, West End; one in Greenland West End about a week prior and another about two – three weeks ago on Tortola.

“This is not a conclusion but it’s something to consider as we continue intense investigations, we are still in the preliminary stages of the investigations so we are not sure that this is the case but it’s something to look closely at,” noted Mr McLean.

Reflecting on the findings so far in the most recent fires at Frenchman’s Cay Mr McLean said that they find it very strange that the magnitude of the damage suffered as the two vessels were some 200 – 260 meters apart from each other.

He said one, a yacht/catamaran was in the water while the Donzie was under a tree on dry land. “It’s a possibility that large sparks of lit components from one could have flown over to the other but that is not a known fact, we are still continuing the investigations but it’s certainly a possibility,” he stated.

As it relates to the fire which partially gutted a bedroom in the Samuel Williams Apartment at Vanterpool’s Estate in East End/Long Look, Mr. McLean said he must commend the community effort that averted a major catastrophe.

He said that it was an extensive involvement of neighbours and other community spirited person with the assistance of fire officers that aided the process of extinguishing the fire in a timely manner.

“We are accustomed to residents playing a big part in putting out fires at Anegada and Jost Van Dyke but it’s not a usual trend here on Tortola as the Fire Department is usually readily on spot but in this recent case it was different and I must commend those persons who displayed such level of community spirit.”

The Fire Chief strongly urged persons to up their security measures to protect their properties both building and vessels. He urged that appliances such as clothes irons, fans, air conditioning units, television sets and such like, be unplugged before leaving home.

“We always ensure that we have our car keys or we call the taxi and have everything else well-organized when we are preparing to go out but we fail to take a walk around our homes for safety and security checks before we leave, that should change,” advised Mr McLean. Similar measure should also be taken before retiring to bed, he pointed out.

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