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School is Open on Tuesday

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Minister of Education, Culture, Youth & Sports Hon. Rodolphe Samuel, issued the following statement on Monday with respect to schools being open on Tuesday, February 7.

“I am informing you all concerned that there is regular school tomorrow, Tuesday, February 7th, 2023. The message of no school did not come from the minister of education.

“I am also informing all teachers that they are due to report to their respective jobs tomorrow (February 7). I am hoping to have informed you sufficiently.”

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Recognize Caribbean nature in one click with ObsIdentify

SINT MAARTEN/BONAIRE - Have you ever wondered what kind of species you are seeing around you? A beautiful lizard, flower, or sea turtle? You can now easily check by taking a photo with your smartphone and uploading it on to the ObsIdentify app for identification. Residents and visitors on Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St. Maarten (Dutch and French side) and St. Eustatius can now download the ObsIdentify app for free.   

Around 3,000 Dutch Caribbean animals and plants have been added to the automatic species recognition tool called ObsIdentify, using data from Observation.org, Dutch Caribbean Species Register and Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). This app allows residents and visitors of the Dutch Caribbean islands to learn more about the diverse wild flora and fauna, both on land and in the sea. This updated version of ObsIdentify was created in collaboration with the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA), Naturalis Biodiversity Center and Observation International and is funded by the Netherlands Biodiversity Information Facility (NLBIF).   

Multilingual 

With the ObsIdentify app, users are now able to upload photos of plants or animals for easy identification. ObsIdentify is available in English, Spanish, Dutch, French, and German, depending on the language setting of your smartphone. Together with local experts, species names have also been made available in Papiamentu (Bonaire and Curaçao) and Papiamento (Aruba). Thewebsite associated with the ObsIdentify app is also available in Papiamentu and Papiamento. Users can help improve the app by sending (missing) local species names to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..   

Fun tips 

The ObsIdentify app not only helps you learn more about nature, but your photos also contribute to nature conservation. Each photo taken adds to a global database to improve biological research and knowledge about nature. This app is meant for photos of native plants and animals. So please do not upload pictures of yourself, other people, pets, or home and garden plants. Your uploaded photos also help to train and further improve the automated species recognition tool. Make sure to create an account and save your sightings.   

Boost your discovery skills with fun tips for finding new species. In addition, you can earn badges and join challenges, you can even create groups with family, friends, or colleagues to share amazing photos. During your discoveries, make sure to respect nature. Do not disturb or damage any of the natural habitats and follow the conservation rules and regulations. Remember, take only  photos and leave only footprints.   

Get the know the nature around you   

If you are interested, you can download ObsIdentify for free from the App Store or Google Play. Keep an eye on the Facebook pages of Carmabi- Curaçao, Nature Foundation St. Maarten, la Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin, Fundacion Parke Nacional Aruba, STENAPA St Eustatius, Saba Conservation Foundation and Tera Barra Bonaire for various hikes in which you can test the app. For more information about ObsIdentify, visithttps://observation.org/apps/obsidentify/ or check DCNA’s Facebook or Instagram

ObsIdentify Header Monarch Butterfly Danaus Plexippus landscape

ObsIdentify Monarch Butterfly - Danaus Plexippus

 

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One-Design Diam 24 Cry Baby and Offshore Trifecta Champ Fujin Top Winners of CMC V.

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - In a spectacular conclusion to what had been a sensational fifth edition of the Caribbean Multihull Challenge Race and Rally, the racing classes and rally fleet converged along the southwestern shores of St. Maarten today to wrap up three remarkable days of sailing. Together, under colorful, billowing spinnakers and with spray flying in easterly trade-wind gusts of well over 20 knots, the combined fields of racing and performance-cruising catamarans and trimarans powered to the finish line in company through the roiled waters of Simpson Bay.

Though it was a happy coincidence that all the sailors came together at the finish, it was also fitting for an event conducted in and blessed with near-perfect Caribbean sailing conditions. In every way imaginable, CMC V was a keeper.

SMYC PANDA ROSSO END GAME PIX2

Race Rally Participant: Panda Rosso - Outer Passage. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.

There were winners, of course, in all four of the racing divisions, with two boats headlining the action and taking home Swiss watches from longtime CMC sponsor Oris Holstein: Pierre Altier’s Diam 24, Cry Baby, which won the Diam 24 division and was named the regatta’s Most Worthy Performer for registering the most convincing victory in the event’s most competitive class. And Greg Slyngstad’s Fujin, which won today’s CMC 27 Mile Around Island Circle Race sponsored by Amstel Bright with a time of 2h, 10m, 22s, earned their timepiece for capturing the CMC Trifecta with first places in all three of the event’s offshore contests. The 53-foot cat also won Friday’s Around Saba Dash sponsored by the Sint Maarten Tourism Bureau and Saturday’s Caribbean 60 Mile Multihull Sprint around St. Barth’s, sponsored by FKG Rigging.

In the other racing classes, Arthur Banting’s Tryst won CSA 2 and Georges Coutu’s La Novia was the winner of CSA 3. In the rally fleet, at this evening’s prizegiving ceremonies at the St. Maarten Yacht Club, Ron Boehm’s beautiful blue Bob Perry-designed Antrim 52, Little Wing, received the award for the Estimated Time Challenge and the Bingo Card Challenge, with Darren Seltzer’ colorful Neel 45 trimaran, Panda Rosso, a close second.

SMYC TEAM FOPE END GAME PIX3

Race Competitor CMC V: Team Fope. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.

In today’s finale, with the Diam 24 class of one-design trimarans deciding to forgo racing, and the CSA 2 trimarans Honey Badger and Tryst also sitting Sunday out on what was easily the windiest day of the regatta, principal race officer Rein Korteknie sent the CSA 1 fleet on the aforementioned round-the-island race, leaving St. Maarten to port on a counterclockwise spin around the isle. Meanwhile, Korteknie sent the CSA 3 fleet in the opposite direction, on a course to a mark off Marigot and back.

In CSA 1, the Gunboat 60 Cui Bono actually got the better of Fujin on the starting line and essentially won the start, but it took little time for Slyngstad’s ridiculously quick cat to power past the larger boat to leeward. Once again, Fujin was launched, providing the other five boats in the class with yet another familiar view of its twin transoms.

The early stages of the CSA 3 race was both much closer and far more dramatic. Coutu’s La Novia and Petro Jonker’s perennial contender Seaduction, a classic Leopard 47, were basically overlapped at the top mark with Jonker just able to squeeze out the larger, newer Leopard 50. It was match racing at its best. As squalls raked the seaway, both cats hoisted spinnakers and commenced a back and forth duel as they sailed westward, with Seaduction slowly, steadily pulling away.

SMYC LITTLE WING END GAME PIX4

Rally Competitor CMC V: Little Wing. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.

A busted halyard on the leg up to Marigot sunk Seaduction’s chances, however, but it also opened the door for the all-women crew on the Lagoon 380, Team Fope, to move into second on corrected time today, which gave the squad a second place for the regatta in CSA 3. It was a fine and gritty result for the ladies, whose effort was sponsored by another longtime CMC backer, Fope Jewelry. Last year’s Most Worthy Performer, Anthony McVeigh aboard the Schionning 51C cat 2 2 Tango, took second this year in CSA 1, again putting together a strong series.

Though Korteknie surely didn’t plan on the race and rally participants rendezvousing off the southwest corner of St. Maarten, as the CSA 1 fleet entered the final stage of their battle around the island, and the CSA 3 boats returning from Marigot, when they were joined by the entire rally fleet returning from their overnight anchorage on Anguilla, that’s exactly what happened.

It was totally cool. Ron Boehm’s Little Wing, led the rally contingent, followed closely by Pauline Lamb’s powerful Lagoon 570, Joline, and Darren Seltzer’s Panda Rosso. That trio was soon joined by another tri, the CSA 1 racing machine Oceans Tribute, which Aussie sailor Guy Chester cruised all the way from New Zealand, much of the trip solo. Everything and everyone mixed seamlessly.

SMYC FJIN END GAME PIX5

Race Competitor CMC V: Fujin. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.

When it was over and the prizes had been passed out at Sunday’s night raucous final party and award’s ceremony, one of the best sailors in the entire CMC fleet, Fujin’s Jonathan McKee, an Olympic medalist and recent inductee into the National Sailing Hall of Fame, had this to say. When asked about Fujin’s prowess at the CMC, he said:

“We’ve been sailing the boat for five years and this is the third time we’ve done the CMC. We keep finding ways to get a little faster. It’s been an evolution. So, I say to the guys here for the first time: ‘Keep plugging. It’s not an accident.’ And we love this event, it’s such a great vibe, the locals and the sailors are so cool but there’s great competition. We know St. Maarten is one of the first places where multihulls were raced hard. We’re here to pay homage to that.”

Fitting words to wrap up a great event. The sixth Caribbean Multihull Challenge Race and Rally will take place February 2-4, 2024. Come pay homage to the sport and its sailors. You will not be disappointed.

 

 

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BioNews Kids Second Edition published by the DCNA

SINT MAARTEN/BONAIRE - After a successful first edition, the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) has released the second edition of BioNews Kids. BioNews Kids is a free printed and online nature magazine for children of ages 9 to 11 on the six Dutch Caribbean islands. It was designed to increase reading, spark curiosity, and educate kids about the extraordinary nature on the six Dutch Caribbean islands, including its threats.

This in support to the nature education programs of the Protected Area Management Organizations on Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten. Around 17,500 printed copies in Papiamentu, Papiamento, English or Dutch were distributed to children on the Dutch Caribbean islands. An online version of the second edition of BioNews Kids can be found here

Supporting Nature Education and public awareness

The mission of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) is to support the Protected Area Management Organizations (parks) on the six islands of the Dutch Caribbean. One of DCNA’s goals is the promotion of educational outreach and public awareness. Therefore, in 2021 the first edition of BioNews Kids – a branch of BioNews, which is for adults – was created. BioNews is a free monthly digital newsletter that gives updates on the latest nature news with a focus on research and monitoring, events, and overall activities concerning the members of DCNA. 

Multilingual nature magazine for kids

BioNews Kids is a freely available magazine in English, Dutch, Papiamento, and Papiamentu

for youth aged 9 to 11 on Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Maarten. The magazine is made available through the nature education programs at the Protected Area Management Organizations (parks). The aim of BioNews Kids is to promote reading on the islands with a magazine that is applicable to the experiences of the children on these islands with the nature they can find in their own backyards.  

Theme: Terrestrial

The main theme for this second edition of BioNews Kids is the terrestrial environment. Kids can read amongst others about the Caribbean flamingo and the Red-billed tropic bird and meet Barry the Bat. The magazine also includes activities such as coloring pages, puzzles, and a craft activity. Besides these activities, readers can begin grasping environmental words and use the photo ID of terrestrial animals continuously.

Contact your local park organization education officer for a hardcopy of BioNews Kids or click here for the online version of this edition. For questions, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

BioNews (Kids) is generously sponsored by the National Postcode Lottery and created by the DCNA.

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Task Force installed for improving air travel in the Dutch Caribbean Shaping and implementing the shared vision of the DCCA

ARUBA (ORANJESTAD) – On November 7, 2022, the historic milestone of signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Dutch Caribbean islands, the Netherlands, the six airports of the Dutch Caribbean and the Dutch Association of Airports was celebrated.

This MOU formalizes a commitment of this partnership to explore and establish affordable, efficient, and sustainable air connectivity between Curacao, Aruba, St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba and, more specifically, to explore and stimulate the use of emission-free powered flights to operate the aforementioned air connectivity.

DCCA Task Force

As agreed in the MOU, all Chief Executive Officers (CEO’s) of the DCCA (Dutch Cooperation of Caribbean Airports) recently determined the constellation of the Task Force. This Task Force will be tasked with developing a Joint Strategic Plan (JSP) for improving the interisland connectivity.

The Task Force will include aviation experts and professionals with at its core Mrs. Marieke Smit (Royal Schiphol Group) as Program Manager, Mrs. Suzy Kartokromo (St. Maarten Airport) as assistant Program Manager, Mrs. Jo-Anne Meaux-Arends (Aruba Airport) and Mrs. Peggy Croes (Curacao Airport), both for business development, Mrs. Christine Driessen (Bonaire Airport) for airport infrastructure/charging stations and standards, and Mr.Vishal Oedjaghir (St Eustatius Airport/Saba Airport) as PSO expert.

As such all islands of the Dutch Kingdom are duly represented and will be working on reaching the end goal of the MOU signed back in November of 2022.

Task Force deliverables

Before the end of 2023, this Task Force will deliver a Joint Strategic Plan with, besides a clear indication how to reach the end goal of a more affordable, efficient and sustainable interisland connectivity network with a concrete timeline and milestones, the following deliverables: 1. The feasibility and establishment of an interisland innovation center for sustainable aviation, to stimulate and facilitate the use of zero emission powered flights for air connectivity between these islands; 2. Possibilities, means and measures to achieve a smooth, seamless and efficient flow of passengers on interisland flights at the airports of the CAS and BES islands, including easing the entry/exit requirements by use of biometrics and digital identification technological advancements or otherwise; 3. Recommendations on necessary changes of laws, regulations and policy pertaining to the end goal; 4. Recommendations on how to make interisland travel more affordable for the public.

The progress of the Task Force will be overseen by a Progress Committee, which will consist of the Kingdom Countries Aviation Steering Group (‘Regiegroep Luchtvaart voor de Koninkrijkslanden’) and the CEO’s of the DCCA airports.

The Dutch Civil Airports Association (‘Nederlandse Vereniging van Luchthavens’) will also appoint a representative in the Progress Committee. Joost Meijs, CEO of Aruba Airport Authority N.V. and chairman of the DCCA: “It is great to see that collectively we have been able to define a strong Task Force with aviation professionals from the Caribbean and international world. I am convinced that together and with the support of all islands and countries of the Dutch Kingdom we will improve the interisland connectivity in all aspects”.

About the DCCA

The Dutch Caribbean Cooperation of Airports (DCCA) is a cooperation between all six Caribbean Airports within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

DCCA’s objective is to improve the general quality of each individual airport by facilitating mutual assistance and efficient exchange of information, transfer of knowledge and sharing of expertise with the goal of achieving economies of scale.

DCCA aims to present future focused alternative air transportation options to improve interisland connectivity between the Dutch Caribbean Islands.

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NOC members and other stakeholders to attend Protocol Session in Connection with Royal Family Visit

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The National Organizing Committee (NOC) continues to prepare for the visit of the Royal Family next week Monday and Tuesday.

On Thursday the NOC as well as other stakeholders who will be covering the royal visit, will attend a protocol work session given by Kenneth de Haseth at the Government Administration Building.

Attendees will be receiving a crash course in Protocol. Those in attendance will be drivers, security detail, catering staff, photo and videographers, press, the protocol team, tour delegates and other persons.

Kenneth de Haseth has more than 40-years’ experience in protocol and worked as Chief of Protocol for Curacao from 1997-2021.

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Registration starts for the “Connect and Inspire” Conference as of Wednesday

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Registration for NPOwer’s 2023 ‘Connect and Inspire’ conference is officially open via its interactive online platform https://npower2023conference.sched.com/. Non-profit Organisations (NPOs), private and public stakeholders and persons, with the aim to strengthen their skillsets as it relates to the effective functioning of NPOs are now able to sign up.

Foresee Foundation Founder/Director and NPOwer conference team member Jose Sommers said, “As of Wednesday, February 1st participants can sign up and exploring the program and sign up for either one, two or three days of keynotes, presentations and workshops with more than 35 presenters that NPOwer designed based on the well-established needs of the NPO sector.”

She said, Npower’s 2023 capacity building conference from February 23 to 25 will serve to keep delegates engaged with interactive, thought-provoking and specially crafted workshops and learning experiences. The 3-day conference will serve all who are interested in the work done by the non-profit sector offering them a very diverse program catering to all needs including the private and public sector.

The first day, Thursday February 23rd is scheduled for regional non-profits with the aim of meeting each other in St. Maarten and sharing good practises learning from each other. An eye-opening multifaceted stakeholder symposium will be held on Friday, February 24th connecting Public, Private and the NPO sector to go in-depth on topics such as creating social cohesion within our small island state, shared economies, stakeholder engagement and the role of volunteerism and social corporate responsibility plays in building resilient communities by collaborating, communicating and thinking jointly more creatively and critically.

The Last day, Saturday February 25th is of particular interest as interested participants can select from over 30 workshops with 5 rounds of 6 parallel workshops, pertinent to building yourself and your organisation allowing for lots of choices in choosing workshops based on needs and interests. Topics vary from governance, to grant writing, grant opportunities, Tech based skills to interest-based topics such as social-emotional well-being, nature, culture, youth and environment, to just name a few.

This conference is free for two representatives from Sint Maarten organisations registered on NPOwersxm.com. Persons or organizations not directly affiliated to NPOwer are asked to contribute US$ 50 per person per day or register as of today to become an NPOwer member saving registration fees.

Regional participants, non-NPO related persons/organizations and any other NPOwer affiliated organization with more than two persons will pay the small US$ 50 per day fee to cover the costs of the conference.

NPOwer is more than excited to invite organizations in Saint Martin (French side, Saba, St. Eustatius, Anguilla and St. Barths to join, connect and become part of a regional network sharing ideas and learning from each other. Participants will take from each other innovative ideas, best practices, techniques for navigating challenges and the fact that there are still a lot of good passionate people doing interesting things for the betterment of their community and will potentially make a world of difference for many.

NPOwer welcomes all non-profits and interested persons to register. NPOwer, noted for the slogan “where NPOs connect” is located at Illidge Road #60, Unit 1.1 in the shared offices of R4CR and Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben. For more information go to contact the NPOwer team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or +1 721 581 5050. More information on the content of the program, workshops and other offers can also be followed on NPOwer's Facebook page @NPOwersxm.

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Rotary Club Sint Maarten-Mid Isle to Bring Back Rotary Table Tennis Tournament

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Rotary Club of Sint Maarten-Mid Isle will be bringing back their Rotary Table Tennis Tournament on Saturday February 25th, 2023, at the L.B. Scott Sports Auditorium.

The opening ceremonies will start at 5:00pm, and games will continue till approximately 11:00pm.

This year, besides the Under-18 category, Rotary-Mid Isle is inviting 18+ year olds to participate. This will include some past champs and participants of the previous tournaments a while back.

Registrations are free, please contact Mr. Glenton Pantophlet at +1 (721) 553-3886. An event T-shirt will be provided, along with snacks and drinks. 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place Trophies will be awarded to Youth Under-18 Category, and Adults 18+ Categories. Both categories include male and female participants for now. In the future, as the sport grows again, the males and females will be performing in separate categories.

A special invitation is extended to all sports fanatics, parents and families of the players, sponsors and supporters to come and enjoy an evening filled with the best of what St. Maarten has to offer in table tennis.

The St. Maarten Table Tennis Federation is planning other tournaments in the future, and Rotary Mid Isle has their full support.

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Sint Maarten Invasive Species Management program receives international exposure

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - During recent weeks the invasive species project has received attention on Sint Maarten and on an international level. The project involves management of the green vervet monkey, a species which is not native to the island, and which has established a growing invasive population on the island after intentional or unintentional release into nature. 

This project was born from the fact that government had received large numbers of inquiries from the public in recent years with demands to do something about the monkeys entering communities, residential areas, and schools, individually or in groups, causing public concerns. Funding from the Ministries of VROMI and TEATT were earmarked to address the problem, which formulated into the invasive species project. The Nature Foundation was tasked with the execution of the project and, as the agency responsible for the health of the island’s environment, recognizes the need for the management of monkeys on the island. 

The project has been initiated and spans a period of 3 years. Several methods of management have been proposed by the foundation, some of which are sterilization and culling by euthanasia. The goal of the Invasive Species Project is to manage the population of the green vervet monkey in order to limit the effects on biodiversity and native species and recognizes that complete eradication may not be possible. Complete eradication may not be viable in part due to the terrain and nature of the island, and as such other measures are being explored to deal with the invasive population. 

The importance of managing invasive species has been recognized globally through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Specifically Target 15.8 of the SDGs states that by 2020, countries should “… introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species”. The recent historic Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, agreed at the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity further supports the management of invasive species, with its article 6 further putting forward the goal to “…eradicate or control invasive alien species especially in priority sites, such as islands”. These global SDGs and the specific mention to invasive species show that programs like this are essential to protecting the health of native ecosystems. Similar projects occur in several countries and islands throughout the world including, Aruba, Bonaire, Saba, the Cayman Islands, and thousands more. 

A comprehensive six-month study was executed in 2020 on Sint Maarten which included population counts, impact assessments, community surveys, and budget analysis. During this research an estimated 450 green monkeys were surveyed on the Dutch side. In 2022 this method was duplicated to execute a new population survey which found that an estimated 2,000 monkeys can now be found in the same areas. 

This spike in population can be explained in many ways. As the island does not have an exceedingly dry period, like that of the green monkey’s native habitat, the accessibility to food allows breeding to happen throughout the year. The gestation period of this species is just over 5 months, so females can give birth more frequently when food is prevalent. Additionally, there may be fluctuation in population counts due to troops traveling between the Dutch and French border based on access to food sources. 

During both 2020 and 2022 St. Maarten residents were asked to take part in in-person surveys held in several communities throughout the island. This survey found that 93% of residents stated that something must be done to manage the species population. Similar feedback is received by officials on French St. Martin where research is currently being conducted regarding their own management options. 

Action must be taken before the island reaches the same level as neighbouring St. Kitts where green monkey population counts reached over 40,000 in 2020. In addition to devastating any attempt at sustainable agriculture efforts, nonhuman primates can carry many diseases without symptoms which can affect humans. Already in certain communities of St. Maarten monkeys have been found to be territorial and aggressive to homeowners and their pets. 

The primary goal of the agencies involved with this project is to help the island by protecting biodiversity, facilitating sustainability, and creating a future in which nature thrives for the next generation of St. Maarteners. The reactions of the public which include threatening the lives of those executing the project are misplaced and have unfortunately been manipulated by the press. However, this project was not established lightly or carelessly as has been implied. The Government of Sint Maarten have been approached by several entities above willing to offer assistance with alternative solutions. Meetings will be taking place to explore these initiatives and collaborations to come to a sustainable solution taking all expressed concerns into consideration.

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Fire Department, Airport Fire Brigade, French side Fire Dept. & Coast Guard Battle three alarm fire Early Sunday morning

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - At about 05:30 am Sunday morning, January 29, 2023, Central Dispatch received several reports of a widespread fire at one of the businesses in Simpson-Bay.

On scene it was confirmed that the business operation under the name District 721 was totally ingulfed in flames.

In view of the situation on the ground, assistance was received from the Airport Fire and the French Fire Departments.

Firefighters managed to bring the fire under control after several hours. Two adjacent buildings were also badly damaged as a result of the fire no one was hurt during the fire.

As a result, the Welfare road was partially closed for most of the day. An investigation was launched after the fire was extinguished in order to determine the cause of the fire.

FIRE CB rest on fire

FIRE CB rest road side

FIRE REST COLE BAY

 

 

 

 

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