“The alarm was raised at around 0400 this morning when the Factory was seen to be on fire. A fierce south westerly meant that by the time the fire engine arrived, nothing could be done except to let the Factory burn itself out.
No one was hurt. But the community is understandably shocked and dismayed at what has happened. However, it could have been so much worse. Had the wind been blowing in a different direction the diesel tanks would probably have gone up too. And as the fishing season has ended, the loss of revenue to the island is minimised.
However, also destroyed were the generators used to provide the island with its 24-hour electricity supply. Work is currently in hand to link the standby generator to the mains, so that islanders can keep their freezers going. The hospital has its own standby generator. Power will be rationed and carefully managed until new generators can be supplied by Ovenstone from Cape Town.
Ovenstone MD Andrew James was extremely relieved to hear that no one was hurt, and is dispatching a team to Tristan to report on the situation.
The MOD is currently assessing the implications of this calamity on Operation Zest.” (Harbour refurbishment project)
Public Notice issued by Administrator David Morley and posted in the village
FACTORY FIRE – CONTINGENCY PLANS
1. Following last night’s fire at the Factory, we hope to restore electricity supplies to the community later today. But it is absolutely crucial that you use only the minimum. Too heavy a load on the standby generator will cause it to fail. So use gas as much as possible and only essential electrical appliances. If you use too much electricity we may need to disconnect the supply to all residences. So please be careful.
2. Once the supply has been restored, it will be turned off at 1800 hours each day, and switched on again at 0630 the following morning. This restriction will apply until further notice.
3. Inter-island and FTN telephone services have been restored, although they will go down when the electricity is switched off. Internet and the TV service are suspended until further notice.
4. The Island Store will be closed until further notice, although arrangements will be made for those who need to buy essential goods to do so. Candles and salt will be rationed with immediate effect.
5. The hospital has its own standby generator and will continue to function normally. Those of you who rely on a regular power supply during the night in order to run medical aids should alert the Doctor of this requirement. If necessary you may need to attend the hospital for this purpose.
6. The Pub will open in the evening at 1800 hours and close at 1930 hours until further notice.
7. Please be assured that Ovenstone is taking this incident extremely seriously. Everyone there is working extremely hard to achieve a solution to our power shortage. We hope that the Lyme Bay can bring us a new generator as well as other essential equipment lost in the fire. As soon as I have more details I’ll let the community know.
Information from www.tristandc.com, the official Tristan da Cunha website. Photograph credits to David Morely, Administrator, Tristan da Cunha