Neighbors reported fire almost immediately. Then as we watched from our decks, firemen raced off in wrong direction up Centerline Road (fire needed to be accessed from King’s Hill Road, up Gerda Marsh Road to intersection, turn left, go around corner, and there was fire. How they did not SEE it when leaving Coral Bay fire station is a mystery!)
When neighbors watched fire truck race up Centerline instead of going to Love City Mini Mart, they phoned in again, telling dispatcher engines were heading in wrong direction. Dispatch-ers/911 need to know to stay on line and get directions from folks, every call gives more details. They should not just say, yeah, we know, someone already called it, and hang up.
When first police cruiser finally came up Gerda Marsh Road, several neighbors waved to tell him he was going in wrong direction at intersection. After seeing the officer not listen and go wrong (much siren noise, much squealing of brakes, lights flashing…but no one thinking), one neighbor moved her car and put flashing lights on to signal other emergency responders of correct turn. Another neighbor parked his truck across the road so responders wouldn’t take wrong turn.
First truck to arrive was small water truck. Then came green truck with boxes on side. Then came St. John Rescue. Later came police PD-254, 25 minutes after fire called in. Then PD-95, 45 min after start, and FS-1, 45 min after start.
Fire was attended to, but house completely lost. It was only thanks to all previous rain that fire did not jump and spread to nearby houses in close range.
When neighbors walked up to site at 6 a.m., the fire was still burning. Some of us couldn’t believe the fire truck didn’t stay “on duty” that night to make sure it didn’t recatch.
Someone said, “no, the policy is to let it slowly burn off all the debris so it doesn’t have to be carted away”…which might make sense. But also it makes it harder to investigate cause of fire 12 hours later. When the firemen were putting it out the night before, it was between 11-12, and they used headlights and flashlights.
The house was empty, Donna off island at time. Small green fire truck with boxes did come up in a.m. after we called that fire still burning.
One more item in comedy of errors that was t he firemen arriving, was that blue Toyota SUV, tag #JAJ-264 went off the road leading to burning house into the trees and had to be abandoned until they could tow it out the next morning.
Our area has not been marked with the Emergency numbering system on the phone poles. We have no signage. If they would share the numbering system with us, I’m sure we would all help and get it up…
We are currently having a community disagreement with recent decision to remove the three officers who were doing such a good job at the Coral Bay Police sub-station. These officers had actually made an effort to get out and learn the community, get to know where things were, who folks are, and we them.
I’d be curious to know who the officer was who ignored us and just went screeching on up the hill in the direction he thought the fire was, not where we neighbors were trying to direct him. At some point before arriving at scene of fire, either police or firemen placed a call from Aqua Bistro trying to find out HOW they got to the road the house was on.
Anyway, this is all the more reason why we want help in Coral Bay from public servants who know the area.
When the fire personnel and WAPA toured the scene the next morning, I hope they also took in the fact that the only access road to this area, is caving in on the downhill side. A neighbor lady has been trying to maintain the road, and widens it away from the cave-in as best she can. But what if the fire engine had not been able to fit on the narrow caved-in section?
Or racing to the fire, in the dark night, and obviously not knowing the road, the unstable edge collapsed and ENGINE went over hillside! What if it had been dry season and the fire had spread from roof to roof along the string of houses in that development?
If a fireman could lose control of his car going home after the fire, what would the rest of the access road be like for the trucks to navigate if that spot in the road actually caved in?
There are senior citizens living on the dead end side of the cave in, who might be stranded for EMT vehicles, or during hurricane weather.
In this election season, we don’t need empty words, catchy phrases. We need legislators familiar with our island to be elected and to be accountable.