Fire hazard ignored

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 October, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 October, 2001, 12:00am

This year, like many before, there was a fire in the cemetery above Mui Wo, Lantau, presumably caused by grave visitors. On my way to help put it out, I passed a couple of policemen standing by the trail at the bottom of the hill.

Clearly visible from where they stood was: grass on fire; groups of people tending graves, surrounded by dry grass; and groups of people walking slowly up the hill, through dry grass, towards the area that was burning.

I didn't have time to inquire about crowd control measures, so I would like to ask the Hong Kong Police, through these pages, what their policy is when large numbers of people are milling about in the vicinity of fires burning out of control?

This fire was one of many during this year's Chung Yeung Festival, and as the Government pursues only the most feeble preventive measures, there will be many more on a regular and predictable basis.

The policy these officers were pursuing - sit and watch - did not seem very effective. When some unlucky family gets scorched by another family's carelessness, perhaps that will be a good time to start thinking about what role the police should play in these situations.