A forest and brush fire that consumed 60 acres west of the Cayman Islands Botanic Park last week appeared to have finally subsided Monday.
But officials at the Department of Environment said the fire caused serious damage to some indigenous trees and plants which will be lost to the area forever.
‘It’s got Ironwood, Banana Orchid, really nice diverse patch of forest,’ said DOE senior researcher Mat Cottam. ‘It’ll never grow back because the native species from that forest type are very slow growing.’
Mr. Cottam said an invasive local bush known as Logwood grows all around that area and will likely soon cover the acres which were burned in the fire.
‘Once that’s established no native vegetation will grow there,’ said Mr. Cottam. ‘It (Logwood) tends to establish to the exclusion of all other species.’
He said there was no evidence yet of any iguanas dying in the fire. However, iguanas are known to populate the brush west of the park where flames broke out last week.
‘What I would be worried about is if any of them were to have gotten trapped in the fire,’ Mr. Cottam said. ‘There are free-roaming iguanas, and some of those have established territories outside the park.’
Fears about the fire spreading to the Botanic Park eased over the weekend as flare-ups from the burning acreage occurred less and less frequently.
‘They really gave it a good dousing on Saturday,’ Mr. Cottam said.
A plane from the Mosquito Research and Control Unit was used to drop water onto the flames Thursday because the thick brush made it impossible for the Cayman Islands Fire Service to reach the burning area.
By Friday, fire fighters were able to move in to quell the flames from the north and east sides of the fire. Flames sprang back up on Saturday, but volunteers and fire fighters joined forces to extinguish the hot spots.
It’s not known who started the fire, but DOE officials said flames broke out in at least three places along Botanic Park Rd. which indicates the fire may have been deliberately set.