During this dry season of the year in the rolling hills of Kongo grass fires are not unusual. Roadsides and areas around homes and buildings are surrounded by dry grasses. Here and there you see blackened spots, evidence of a grass fire. I suspect the grass fires around living areas and buildings are caused when garbage is burned, a common practice. Roadside grass fires could be caused by tossed cigarettes, sparks from building equipment or, most likely, sparks from motorcycles. Today, at the bottom of our hill one of these causes started a grass fire. From our excellent viewpoint on the patio of the S. R. Centre we watched the fire grow. The wind picked up, the fire grew, nobody came to put it out. The workers right next to the fire didn’t even turn around to look, they just continued hammering. The fire spread, the smoke grew thick, still no one came! Motorcycles flew by on the road, no one stopped. As the fire crept up the hillside I started thinking about loading up my suitcases which was really silly as our building is stone and tin. Phone calls were made to the friary and finally the fire brigade arrived…a man with a machete who hacked some green branches of a bushy tree. He began to beat down the fire with the branches and once the wind died down, so did the fire.
I am still amazed that no one came to help him. I think Kongo needs more than a one man fire brigade.
Author Denise Larson (Madame Denise to the students at Kongo Senior High)