’82 ammo explodes as fire crews battle gorse blaze
FIFTY calibre rounds exploded in burning bushes as the Falkland Islands Fire and Rescue Service battled a gorse-bush fire in the early hours of January 6.
Watch Manager Gene Berntsen told Penguin News this week that the rounds were heard by members of the public exploding prior to the arrival of the Fire Service and by firefighters as they tackled the fire. No injuries were sustained during the fire “just some blisters – but that’s normal,” he said.
Showing some of the rounds to PN, he said he had been told by residents there were Argentine gun emplacements nearby the area during the 1982 war.
The Fire Service was called to the area at 4:10am on Monday morning. A report from the service noted that the 999 call was made by a nearby resident who was awoken by the flames. As soon as she became aware, another nearby resident and retained firefighter ran door to door to warn everyone in the vicinity to evacuate, before running to the Fire Station to join in the fire fighting efforts.
On arrival, crews were faced with a rapidly spreading and hot fire, producing plenty of smoke. It had already jumped the path and as well as heading east and west, was heading south towards the school, with substantial damage to the outside of the Sure administration building.
Crews deployed quickly, wearing breathing apparatus where needed, to contain the fire. Once the spread was controlled, they concentrated on ensuring that all hotspots were out.
The Service worked with PWD, who sent a JCB to dig out an area of gorse to the south to be a fire break if it was needed.
They also worked with the Power and Electrical Section, who identified and isolated any electrical installations in the area that may have been affected, and Sure Falkland Islands to ensure the safety of their buildings.
Most Fire Service personnel left the scene before 8am, leaving a few full-time staff on scene to monitor the area. Since then they have revisited the site throughout the week to dampen down hotspots that have arisen.
It is thought the cause of fire was an introduced ignition source, most likely a discarded cigarette.