Guam – GFD PIO Lt. Ed Artero says they’ve found evidence of arson at the Santa Rita wild land fire that burned along cross island road last week. Some recent fires have burned near to Navy property sparking some concerns and now the Navy is seeking the public’s help for any information on arson in these areas.
“We found a incendiary device that could be reason to believe that some of these fires are intentionally set its currently under investigation with our fire prevention office,” said Lt. Artero adding, “An incendiary device is any kind of device or apparatus that’s used to intentionally to start a fire. I can’t elaborate on the description of it because it’s under investigation.” Artero says the device was found in “proximate location” to Navy property.
Navy PAO Lt. Matt Knight says these fires have threatened some Navy assets including some fuel tanks, “Over the past week there’s been several fires started where when we were looking at it afterwards our fire department and Guam Fire Department as well saw that it looked like they could’ve been intentionally set and that really concerns us because fire’s one of those things that’s indiscriminate. What affects one affects all. It doesn’t just burn up to the fence and stop. It burns both the house next to the fence, the fuel farm that we’ve got on the other side of the fence and so we’re really asking the public if they know any information to either call Guam Fire Department or NCIS,” said Lt. Knight.
No one can say for sure if hunters or poachers are the culprits but it’s common knowledge on Guam that hunters or poachers will set wild land fires. Deer like to eat the new grass shoots that grow after a place has burned. Hunters will return to a spot that was burned weeks later to shoot the deer that are eating the new grass.
However, Artero says there are ways that the fires can be accidentally set. “Accidentally set fires can be from people doing debris clearing or any kind of open burning and embers from these fires can travel and land into an area that’s pretty dry and cause an unwanted and accidental fire,” said Lt. Artero.
The Guam forestry and soil division of the Department of Agriculture, the Guam Fire Department, the Bureau of Statistics and Plans, and Guam EPA have been holding fire clinics to encourage people not to burn whether it’s burning trash or arson. “Mungga ma songge Guahan. Don’t burn Guam, and we’re going to show you all of these really creative alternatives to burning. It’s a don’t burn initiative we’re pushing for no need to burn on the island,” explains BSP Coastal Zone Management’s Christine Camacho.
In fact Camacho says wild land fires are an epidemic on Guam that is hurting the island’s environment. “I invite people to take a drive along the south side of Guam. Take a look at the ridge and those areas that you see where it’s burned ground just brown there is no more top soil there. That’s all been washed away down the rivers and out onto the coastline,” said Camacho. On the coastline it smothers the reef and coral which need sunlight to grow. Without healthy coral fish stocks decline. The erosion of topsoil also leads to the creation of badlands where nothing will grow. This can already be seen in some areas of the south were topsoil is gone and only bare red clay remains.
Camacho says the next fire workshop will be on April 26th at the Yona gym. Although there were 28 grass fires last week alone Lt. Ed Artero says that Guam is experiencing about the average number of grass fires for the dry season.