Swift action from officers attached to the Bridgetown Fire Station, prevented a major fire, which could have severely affected the busy Belleville and surrounding areas.
Experts are however blaming some Barbadians for creating an extremely hazardous situation, by illegally dumping combustible material indiscriminately.
Three appliances, one fire tender, a multimedia tender, a water tanker and eight fire officers responded to reports of a fire at the old Bishop’s residence at Bishop Court Hill, St Michael.
Three large boulders blocked the entrance to the old official residence of the Bishop of Barbados and leading fire officer Roger Bourne expressed disappointment at the eyesore, caused by an apparent lack of maintenance by its stewards.
“This property, although it is owned by the diocesan council, is being used as an area for garbage disposal. Right now there are bags of fiberglass, pieces of air conditioning units and other heaps of garbage on the property, which could cause a problem in many ways. It puts us fire officers in danger, because we don’t know what is here on the property.
“With an increase in rodents, it also poses a problem to the environment and the citizens at large. This property, not being maintained, looked after or properly
supervised by the owners, is causing chaos as we examine the problem of illegal dumping,” the fire officer complained.
He said: “If the asbestos had made contact with the fire, then there would a plume of toxic material going in an easterly direction, affecting both commercial and non commercial entities, which can cause serious damage to a person’s health. Thankfully, we have been able to abate the situation and control it to the building as is, so all the hazardous material would not be exposed to the public at this time.”
Sub Officer Alex Bynoe told Barbados TODAY the fire officers received a call at 9:02 on Wednesday morning.
“On arrival, the building was engulfed in flames. We initiated an external attack on the building because the roof would have already been burnt out and caved in. We had the fire under control by 12:30 and we are just continuing to hose down the property,” he said, adding that the team could not wait on officials from the Ministry of Transport and Works (MTW) to remove the boulders given the impending threat.
“We have to carry out some more investigations later to see what caused this, but it was regarded as a derelict building because it was not in use for a number of years,” he added.
Archdeacon Venerable Eric Lynch, a trustee of the property, was also on the scene with members from the Environmental Protection Division, who visited the scene to assess the risk caused by the asbestos.
“Let us be clear that this was an unused building and it has been for sometime as we sought to determine what the future of the property here at Bishop’s Court would be,” said Lynch.
During colonial times, the near 100-year-old building housed the Archbishop of Barbados and symbolized the powerful relationship between the Church of England and the British state, which existed at the time.