Dry Weather Causes Rash Of Brush Fires In Palau

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Despite high winds, no residents damaged

By L. N. Reklai

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, April 18, 2016) – Sunday, April 17, a rash of fires broke out in Airai and Koror straining the resources of fire station as three fire trucks and firemen ran between Airai and Ngerkebesang and refill stations from early morning until late afternoon.

A fire broke out on the hills over Ngeruluobel early Sunday morning and by 10:30am was over Ngetkib and Ochelochel in Airai. The dry drought conditions and high winds drove the fire close to residences above the hilltop of Ochelochel. Residences in this area include homes of Senators Inabo and Rudimch.

As the Airai fire came under control around 1:30pm, a report of fire consuming former Image Restaurant in Ngerkebesang was made.

By 2:00pm the entire wooden structure behind the Image Restaurant was already burned to the ground and hillside behind Image was ablaze. High winds were fanning the flames over the ridge toward Echang.

Around 2:30pm, the first fire truck arrived. Due to lack of water, fire trucks cannot refill at fire hydrants and water delivery trucks were diverted to fill up fire trucks. One fire truck continued running between Ngerkebesang, Koror and Ochelochel, Airai to refill at Ever Fortune area.

Fire fighters continued fighting the fire until late afternoon. Fortunately, the fire that crossed the over ridge to Echang, did not reach the residences on the hillsides directly below the ridgeline. Residents there were relieved that the fire did not get to their homes.

Causes of both fires have not been identified. Fire is one of the threats posed by this severe drought condition and EQPB has issued a warning to the public not to start fire and to report fires. Fines can be imposed for this violation. Drought conditions which include windy weather in addition to limited water supply can cause danger to lives and properties.

Image Restaurant was well known as high class restaurant in Palau during the 90’s and is a landmark feature of that part of the island.

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