Forest Fires, Abaco 11


My last post was about SAWMILL SINK – not the famous Blue Hole itself, but the detritus of past logging activity in that part of the Abaco pine forests revealed by last month’s forest fires. I mentioned that this destructive burning of the shrubby understorey is (allegedly) the work of  hunters making it easier for their dogs to pursue the hog denizens of the forest. The evidence suggests that nature alone could not cause so many separate seats of fire to appear in a matter of days over such a wide area – and in springtime at that.

This year, the fires came uncomfortably close to several small communities and outlying residences – and to the Delphi Club itself. Many people spent nights hosing down undergrowth and building on the edge of settlements, with neighbours all joining in. Electricity poles are vulnerable, with obvious consequences for the supply should they burn through at the bottom, as often happens. One pole a short way south of Delphi on the highway has the burnt remains of 3 utility posts beside the current (ha!) one. At Delphi itself, the vegetation from around all the poles along the mile of drive had to be cleared.

This iPhone photo was taken from the Delphi balcony. The fire is in fact on the far side of the highway, with the pall of smoke – and therefore the fire’s direction – heading south. The question is, when and where will it jump the highway, and what will be the wind direction then…Forest Fires, Abaco 12

This picture shows the extraordinary effect of the smoke-laden atmosphere on the sunset. The header picture is another example. The fire is now into the pine woods between the Club and the highway, and the theory that the damp coppice nearer the Club will act as a barrier to prevent its spread is about to be put to the test overnight…Forest Fires, Abaco 9

It soon became clear that the fires were not going to be discouraged by the coppice.  Sandy is always eager to find volunteers to go out in a truck to feel the heat, so to speak. He is apt to dismiss concerns that one is sitting on top of a large tank of inflammable liquid by pointing out that diesel is less combustible than petrol. This is invariably comforting to all occupants of the vehicle. So with the fire burning bright, and with tree-tops suddenly bursting into flame like torches, off we go…Forest Fires, Abaco 3Forest Fires, Abaco 5Forest Fires, Abaco 7Forest Fires, Abaco 1Forest Fires, Abaco 2

In the morning, a smokey mist lies over the trees and the bay to the northForest Fires, Abaco 14

An uncomfortably short distance along the guest drive, it is clear that the coppice has burnt quite easily, though not devastatingly. In fact there are still flames to be seen…Forest Fires Abaco 19Forest Fires Abaco 18

Later, out on the Marls, a plume of smoke is visible, with several more in either directionForest Fires, Abaco 4

Despite the widespread damage caused by the fires, the capacity for regeneration is amazing. New growth is visible very quickly, and within the year the burnt-out areas are mostly back to normal. I’ll end on that optimistic note, and with another dramatic sunset above the haze of smoke over the tree canopy.Forest Fires, Abaco 8


    • The sunsets are often quite dramatic, but there’s something about the fire-smoke that intensifies orange in particular, and turns it red. Lovely from a distance, but this year the fires really did come uncomfortably close to base… and to some of the small settlements. I’m back there in June, and I’ll take some pics of the regrowth in the forest. Meanwhile, enjoying your travelogues!


  1. It is now fire season in New Mexico. We’ve already experienced a few wild fires in and around Albuquerque this year. It looks to be another very hot and dry spring. The most recent one was thought to be caused by an off-road ATV spark.


    • Thanks for a bunch of ‘likes’ today, Jody! I’m hoping that at least your fires are natural, or anyway non-deliberate. Sparks can happen. Chucking cigs out of a car window, or firing up a forest on purpose – less easy to accept or forgive…


    • Hi Sarah (Quebec?)! It’s strange how fire can be so destructive, and simultaneously beneficial for the forests in a number of ways. But maybe not so many, in one area, so regularly… and therefore so uncontrollable. Fire-combat resources on a small island are limited. All the best, RH


  2. Thanks again. You may want to add to future updates that carelessly tossed cigarette butts are another very common source of fires during dry season.



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