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Last Night's Fire On Bay Street: Sugar Mill Burns
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Page 1 of 1Total of 10 messages
Posted by:Dec 4th 2003, 02:02:58 pm
Robert Hyeah, what will the local response Be? How many times must we always be asking outsiders to help uys out? I am shame that we have so much more than other islands with So little to actually show for, and we always needing money for mor
Posted by:Dec 4th 2003, 02:00:33 pm
BlueleganceJournee i cold heartedly agree. harbour island need to get with the program and upgrade the priority level.Instead of concentrating on the wrong things worry about things that the community is lacking or in desperate need of and thats my five cents.
Posted by:Dec 2nd 2003, 04:32:30 pm
Posted by:Dec 1st 2003, 01:24:51 pm
MaddieSounds like Mr. Haskell is right on the money!
Congratulations to Jeffery and his men for a job well done!
Posted by:Nov 30th 2003, 07:38:01 pm
chapelRichard Haskell of Dunnmore Cottage had a bird's eye view of last week's fire:

My family and I were finishing dinner on our porch the night the fire started, and my son ran down to it with his video camera. From atop the phone booth across from the building, he took about 35 minutes of footage. The film is dramatic and stunning to say the least. It beautifully captures the heroism of Jefferson as he practically stood in a blown out window spraying the fire. It captured the bucket brigade fully, as well as the worried and frustrated expressions on people's faces. You hear the rounds of applause when they got the fire under control. We believe the film will provide evidence that without the bucket brigade, the buildings on either side of the Tourism office, especially the school, would be gone. It also shows the heroics of people like Cookie Ross who got on the roof of adjacent buildings and fought the fire with garden hoses. This kept those building's roofs wet, and the sparks from igniting them. We also believe the film will become archival for all sorts of useful purposes, like investigators and insurance agents. But the most important purpose of the film will be its enduring ability to act as our constant reminder that we really must end the insanity of a place like Briland being without fire equipment!!!

As a fire committee member, I must be one of the first to accept responsibility that our committee got to a point, then we stopped. And this was of course far short of our original goal. Now, based on our many committee discussions, may I offer what I believe should be our priorities, and the order in which they should be accomplished:

1. For everyone in the community to run - not walk - to shake Jefferson's and his volunteers hands and thank them for what he did. As I said, the film proves them to be the heroes of the day.

2. Before we organize any equipment, we must organize the funds to compensate and train Jefferson and one or two firefighting assistants. We need to have the team - paid and / or volunteer - in place, trained, and compensated. And just beyond that, funds which will maintain whatever equipment we do obtain.

3. A modest assessment, tax if you will, of each building on the island would easily in my opinion accomplish # 2 above. I can't help but think that as little as $100. annually from each property would be more than enough to achieve the goal of ongoing annual maintenance and compensation.

4. John Dunkley at Nassau Underwriters has repeatedly expressed his interest in helping us, but he quite rightly requires "a plan" from us which covers all the points I am making here. We need to re-involve John fully. Similarly, we need to include anyone else who has an insurance interest on Harbour Island.

5. We have funds (donations) in different places, i.e. on the island (with Robert Arthur's effort) and in the Modem (Kimberley's effort.) The first order of business of the new committee should be to determine (a) the amount of these funds presently on hand, (b) the amount needed in 2004 for item # 2, and of course from that, (c) the goal for fundraising.

6. Determining what equipment to obtain ought not to be difficult. Good ideas, pledges, and offers to help are pouring in from the community. I've always felt that those of us who don't know anything about fire-fighting equipment ought to take a backseat to the many who do. I don't believe that determining what equipment to purchase or even raising the funds to purchase it will be as difficult as point # 2.

7. I will begin distributing Richard, Jr.'s DVD and VHS as soon as they are available. A copy will be sent to officials, involved parties, and anyone who needs it. Many more people have expressed an interest, so we might consider selling copies through the Briland Modem to raise additional funds for the fire effort.

Thank you for allowing this input.

Richard Haskell
Posted by:Nov 28th 2003, 01:12:01 pm
Bluelegance This is such a tragedy. I am truly proud to see all the natives getting together to protect our society.. However, yes Briland is in desperate need of a Fire Engine to avoid accidents like this happening in the near future. The situation with the fire engine should have been dealt with a long time ago prior to this event..
We should not sit and wait until something happens to act upon the matter or do something about it..
Can some one please tell me how did this fire occur? Because this Tourism Building has been up and going before i was conceieved so it would be interesting to me if i find out the real cause...(Puzzled)..

Ledaunne(Concerned Native).
Posted by:Nov 26th 2003, 05:53:40 pm
Fig Tree News TeamNotes from Abaco:

Dear Kimberly,

Abaco aches for you and everyone involved. Our deep sympathy and prayers are with you.

I will announce your news on the Cruisers Net in the morning, letting everyone know of the plight you find yourselves in. I hope it helps with fundraising!

Pattie Toler
Posted by:Nov 26th 2003, 01:22:34 pm
KimberlyHey there:
Donations are being accepted on-island at the local government office on Gaol Lane, which effort is being coordinated by Lucy Neeley, Marionette Cartwright, Tanya Hutchison and Marguerite Pennerman. The local government Briland Fire Truck team can be reached at 333 2275, or via e-mail to

The local government Briland Fire Truck team is working with Robert Arthur of Arthur's Bakery [ex-chair of the old Briland Fire Truck committee] to transfer all of the research done by the earlier group with regard to suggested fire truck models and volunteer training programs.

Former Briland Fire Truck committee members included volunteer fire captain Jefferson Johnson, Richard Haskell of Dunmore Cottage, Kimberly King-Burns of the Briland Modem Fund, John Dunkley of Nassau Underwriters, former homeowner Howard Siegel and Keith Wells of the Royal Bank of Canada. Members of local government council were invited to participate at the regular meetings. John Tysse of South Bar Club kicked off the fundraising for the replacement truck earlier this year with a $5,000 donation.

For donations off-island, you can send a check or wire transfer to the Briland Modem Fund [which will then send you a tax receipt for your donation, being a registered 501c3 organization]. Please note Account No. 21734 08237, ABA Wire 12100035-8. Checks and money orders can also be mailed to Bank of America, Briland Modem Fund, 255 North Pass Avenue, Burbank CA 91505. Please note that your donation is for the Briland Fire Truck project, and the Fund will make sure that the new local government team will get the immediate support.

Hope this helps
Posted by:Nov 26th 2003, 01:01:20 pm
MaddieThis is tragic, but reinforces the fact that we need a working fire engine on Harbour Island.
Pardon the pun, but maybe this incident might "spark" a renewed interest in contributing to the fire truck fund. Please post the instructions for making a contribution.
Posted by:Nov 26th 2003, 11:48:10 am
Fig Tree News TeamFire on Bay Street
November 26, 2003

Fire destroyed the Office of Tourism on the second floor of the Sugar Mill Buiding at the foot of Government dock last night, but quick cooperative action by residents and visitors saved the neighboring buildings.

The fire broke out around 8:30 p.m. according to witnesses. Diners at Harbour Lounge, the Landing, and Rock House saw flames shooting high into the sky and sounded the alarm. Susan Neff, former chef at Coral Sands who was dining at Rock House, said she thought the entire block was about to catch.

Volunteers formed a bucket brigade to draw water from the bay, but getting buckets of water up to a second story blaze is no easy task.

Firefighters stood on the roof of Doris Dry Goods, the building to the south, to get access. The choir practicing at the Methodist church heard shouts from the street and dashed down together to join the firefighters.

The fire leapt to the roof of Dunmore School, the neighboring building to the north. While the brave fire fighters contained it, school director Patricia Masisak organized the school's staff and rounded up volunteers to clear out the school's computers, furniture, and books, moving some to private homes and the rest to the school's back yard where the crew of women covered everything with a huge tarpaulin.

We expect they'll appreciate help putting the school back together and repairing the damage.

Juanita Percentie, owner of the new office supply store by Bank of Canada, said, "We were fortunate to have the BEC truck to give us the high ground."

The men maneuvered the truck's cherry-picker arm above the fire line giving both a downward water source and a vantage point from which to spot sparks and hidden trouble spots.

And where was the island's fire truck? The ancient pumper housed on Gaol street is no longer in service. Fire chief Jefferson Johnson expressed frustration that he could have put out the fire sooner with the proper equipment.

A fund to purchase and manage a new truck needs new blood. Although some funds have been collected, former committee chief Robert Arthur has had to attend to other pressing issues, and several members of the Fire Fund committee have left the island, leaving the effort stalled. Robert Arthur has met with local government to discuss the situation, and The Briland Modem Fund continues to raise funds for a new truck for the island, which have totalled $10,000 to date.

As a temporary measure, it has been suggested that the island purchase a simple pump truck that would be cheaper and require less effor to maintain. Details of such a program can be found at

Meanwhile, Leon Johnson of Bottom Harbour Club saw the flames from his restaurant on Eleuthra and called Tourism director Raymond Harrison, who also lives on Eleuthera. "You better get over there," he said. "Your office is on fire."

Harrison reported that new furnishings had just been installed last week. "But thank God no one was hurt and we kept it from spreading," he said. We'll be back in business tomorrow."

It was too soon to know how much damage there is to the Sugar Mill gift shop on the ground floor owned by the Norma Albury and Elizabeth Bethel.

At last report, an investigation into the cause of the fire will begin on Wednesday.

Many, of course, recalled the last major fire on Harbour Island when Valentine's burned in 1999. In both cases, the wind was a huge factor.

Artist and former Councilmember Harvey Roberts, who had just finished dining at the Harbour Lounge, and who has painted one of the most famous images of that beloved building, said, "The first thing I checked was the wind. It was blowing west, straight out to the bay. I prayed that it stayed that way, because the Harbour Lounge is a wooden building, and would have been lost if the wind shifted."

Councilmember Tavar Sawyer summed up what everyone on Harbour Island was feeling. "We've got plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season. Especially now. I'm thankful the damage wasn't worse, and I'm proud of my fellow Brilanders. We worked togther like a community. Everyone side by side. You could feel the love."

For photographs of the fire, please see our sister site,

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