Emergency 911!


Those are the first words I heard at 3:15 AM in the morning. Someone was pounding on my door yelling for us to get out. I scrambled out of bed and ran to the front door and fumbled with the chain. When I opened the door I was hit with a wave of heat and all I saw across the narrow street were huge flames lighting up the night. People were running every direction. Amy and I roused the kids and she hustled them out of the room and onto the beach. I grabbed our essential things like passports, money, laptop, and camera and stuffed them onto a bag. I started cramming everything I could into our backpacks as Amy came back into the room. We snatched up our bags and got back down to the beach. Flames were still towering over the buildings next to ours. At this point the fire truck still had not arrived. People in the area began gathering buckets, tupperware, and anything else that would hold water. A bucket brigade had begun from the ocean to the fire. I wasn’t about to sit and watch so I picked up a bucket and started to help. Before I knew it I was at the front line of the fire throwing buckets onto the flames and the nearby buildings. Nothing like being on the frontline of a fire in shorts and flip-flops. Eventually the fire truck showed up, but couldn’t get the pump to function. The scene was chaos with people running every which way with buckets, garden hoses, pressure washers, and anything that would put out a fire. Finally, the hoses began to work and got the fire out.


The island's one and only fire truck



Unfortunately, four structures were lost and many more damaged. Luckily nobody was killed or injured. The sad part about this is two-fold.

First, the owners of one of the buildings had just put in all new appliances, but had put off getting insurance.

Second, there was a young Dutch couple that from what I heard had caused the fire

by burning a mosquito coil. The fire had started with them and had taken everything they had in the form of passports, money, and clothes. I mean they were literally in their underwear. Fortunately we had room at the place we were staying and they were able to sleep there. However, the poor couple were detained while the police investigated the fire. The were finally let go. We had offered to provide anything they needed, but it seems they were taken care of with new clothes and money.

Later in the day when the boys and I were swimming in the pool the local news crew came by to ask some questions. They interviewed me on camera and asked if we had any pictures or video. Alex had filmed part of the fire with our camera and the news crew wanted to use it. We let them download it and told us to watch the news and/or check out there website. They said they would credit Alex with the video. So, I am hoping to get a link that I can share with everyone.

There are two things I will always take away from this. First, seeing all the people from locals to travelers working together to put the fire out just re-enforces to me that when it comes down to it, people are inwardly good and kind and will help others in need. Second, never burn a mosquito coil.


-Tony 11/24/09


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