BVI News

Backyard fires will be put out once reported


The Virgin Islands Fire & Rescue Service is reminding individuals that it has the legal authority to put out backyard fires that endanger the health of others.

In an interview with 284 Media on October 12, Chief Fire Officer Zebalon McLean said his department often receives complaints from persons who are simply unable to bear the smoke of backyard fires.

He said once calls are received, his department is left with no choice but to ensure such fires are put out.

“We are obligated to respond when we are called. So if you have people who are burning something in their yard or on their land and it’s affecting someone else, we have to go,” McLean explained.

He said in some instances, persons who are asthmatic have had to run from their homes because of fires that endangered their health.

Persons who start backyard fires are also being warned that they have a responsibility to put them out once neighbours complain that they are being affected.

“If you have a piece of land and you want to burn something it’s your land you can do what you want to. But as soon as the smoke begins to affect someone else, then you are responsible. You are responsible for controlling it, you are responsible for putting it out and if you don’t we are going to come in. We are backed by the law. We cannot refuse to respond,” McLean explained.

He confessed that he does understand that backyard burning is often a last resort because of the infrequent garbage collection.

“But on the flip side you have persons whose health is being compromised by inhaling all these particulars,” McLean explained.

He said backyard burning will be a major focus of Fire Safety Week which is being observed from October 11 to 17.

Backyard burning has been a longstanding environmental and social issue in the BVI. In September, McLean had reported that there was a 50 percent decline in the number of reports to his department.

He said the decline in reported cases could be because people are aware that their backyard fires could affect many people who are at home more often due to the numerous curfews that have been implemented.


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  1. Thank you says:

    Thanks for addressing this sore eye issue. Land owners need to be considerate of others when burning trash on their land.

    The community need to be made aware. Glad to see this in the news. Good job Sir!

    Like 11
    Dislike 3
    • Enough already says:

      I need to burn trash – hold your breath and stop complaining

      Like 2
      Dislike 14
      • Hmmm says:

        Burn your trash your neighbours will call and report it. It is that simple

        Like 5
        Dislike 3
        • Comment says:

          I believe that most of the complaints are from white folks, trying to control persons in their own country. Residing Busy Bodies!

          Like 1
          Dislike 16
          • Agreed says:

            It is all the fault of the white expats – let them go home if they don’t like fires.

            Like 2
            Dislike 8
          • Racist. says:

            Lung cancer does not discriminate like you. White or black. Inhaling smoke will damage your health. Don’t be a racist and make such dumb comments.

          • Racist says:

            You couldn’t get any more racist if you tried!

            Like 8
            Dislike 1
          • BVIslander says:

            I assure you that it is not only white people complaining. I have had to call Fire Dept several times due to my home being so filled with heavy smoke that I couldn’t stay there. If we are reasonable people, how could it be fair that my neighbors garbage is then ending up in my bedroom? We need to be more thoughtful of how we impact others. We are simply too selfish for our own good

            Like 3
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      • Hmm says:

        If this is correct why don’t the fire dept put out the fire at Pockaood Pond when I complain? They only act when the whites complain about the blacks having fires.

        Like 3
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  2. Lmao says:

    Let the people burn their trash. Lord knows they have enough of it laying around their property. Half the Territory looks like a garbage dump and they dare to charge tourists an environmental fee. Try to stop living like savages in the third world.

    Like 8
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    • @Lmao says:

      Well, if you have such an issue with our third world country, please take a flight back to your first world frosty, concrete garage-dump! I for one have seen your dirty cities and rat infested first-world slums and I am not impressed. If you were, you would not be in my country talking garbage.

      Like 3
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  3. Anonymous says:

    we are not burning trash, but cuttings and branches from our land, we do not burn household garbage

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  4. I can't breath! says:

    Mr. McLean,

    I must commend you for bringing this into the light.

    Formal complaint is coming for the fires still to this day being lit at pockwood pond.

    We have been breathing in these particles which you yourself have reiterated is a major health concern.

    Why are they still poisoning us west enders?

    We are constantly going to the doctors for headaches, inhalers and decongestants, cancer and other health concerns are real.

    Please address this ongoing issue as a class action suit would be eminent in the future, for unhealthy government practices.

    Doctor visits and air sensors will be proof of the third world tactics.

    Natures little secret has been on the pyre for too long!

    Like 19
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    • @ I can’t breath! says:

      If you can’t breath in my so called ‘third world’ country why are you here? Why would you leave a breathable country to live in a non-breathable ‘third world’ country?

      Like 2
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    • Doh says:


      That is not a fire. It is now described as a naturally occurring geothermal event due to climate change. It is not manmade as gasses collect and then ignite under pressure. Think Iceland.

      So we have our very own volcano. Please address it as such.

      Carry on

  5. @@i can't breath! says:

    Maybe you can’t comprehend words properly!

    I never said it was a third world country.

    And I quote ” third world tactics” which this method is!

    Furthermore, apparently you do not live west of Pockwood Pond, otherwise you would be visiting the doctors as well.

    Check yourself and your twisting of words!

    Like 5
    Dislike 1
  6. Health Hazzard says:

    My neighbor continued to burn their garden garbage even though they were reported repeatedly. By the time the fire department reached the fire all the waste was burned, their problem solved. Their ought to be a fine for repeated offenses. It’s worth it to burn if all you get are repeated warnings and not held financially accountable!

    Like 4
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    • Agree says:

      By the time you call fire to report,
      Your lungs are filled with smoke
      People burn trees, plastic even a tire,
      I feel as if I will choke
      Give them a fine so they will know
      That fire is no joke

      Please fire chief and Cabinet members

  7. In time to come says:

    The smoke from them jerk Vans does bother me so I will be calling to have them put out also my neighbors barbecue grill does bother me too

    • @ In time to come says:

      In time to come… you will be out of my country complaining about your neighbors dog, car, kids and anything you Control Sociopaths complain about daily.

  8. Local girl says:

    Well if all that bothering you, leave, go live on one of the cays all alone, but I will burn my trash and keep around my property clean, especially with dengue killing people on St.Vincent and St.Lucia.
    These white swines just here invading our space and want to tell us how to live, bet then don’t go St.Thomas and bitch over there see how fast a Thomian get the rid of a few of those rabbits.
    If us locals/ blacks can’t live in peace in our country,them you white fork tongue cobras would have to go back to whence you all came.

    Like 2
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    • It’s about health says:

      It’s about your health too. You really believe black people don’t get cancer from inhaling those toxic fumes?

      Don’t be so ridiculous. Sometimes it’s just better to listen and learn instead of being stubborn and racist.

      Like 2
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    • Local boy says:

      Local Girl, Send you back to whence you came. – Africa

  9. Gagged says:

    Some one smoke out the whole Valley last week on VG.
    Old people have no where where to run or hide when the smoke comes through the window…disgusting, no respect. burner always upwind…

  10. Phoenix says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHA…..this morning, (the 15th), I was in my yard at West End with some friends after a very light rain and it started SNOWING!

    It looked like snow; it was ash. Ash fell all around us for 5 minutes.

    So the government mek rules for we all but don’t follow themselves? HUH.

  11. Weezy says:

    So what about Pockwood pond ? Still no pollution equipment. West end has been suffering for years. It has become a cancer hot spot.

    Like 2
    Dislike 1

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