‘Catastrophic’ blaze engulfs HWP
Fire tore through the showroom of auto company HWP on August 8, resulting in millions of dollars’ worth of damage. The blaze also destroyed the paint and body shop and administrative offices, leaving a burnt-out shell.
Up to 12 customers’ cars were consumed in the fire, which took up to 60 firefighters three hours to extinguish. Plumes of smoke filled the Hamilton skyline.
Although no one was injured, the company was later forced to lay off 21 of its 115 staff. HWP said the extent of the damage left it “no choice” but to resort to job losses.
Don Mackenzie, company chairman, described the fire as “catastrophic”.
Bus strike over a drugs test
Striking bus drivers paralysed public transport in protest at the firing of a colleague for not taking a drugs test after an accident on June 24.
Demonstrators against the strike gathered at City Hall in protest.
In the meantime, hundreds of Bermudians came to the aid of stranded tourists and commuters, giving them lifts across the island.
Bermudians witness riots
Bermudians living in London spoke of their fear as rioting swept through the UK capital.
Michelle Smith, 27, told of how she sat in the dark, scared of the rioters in her Ealing neighbourhood.
“It was terrifying. The ash from the fires was blowing right towards my house,” she told the Sun.
Police popular in Dockyard
Shopkeepers and tourists welcomed a special police foot patrol at Royal Naval Dockyard.
Constables Sean Johnson and Ralshon Douglas were picked to help deter crime in the area, which accommodates 7,000-9,000 people when cruise ships are docked.
Children’s home closes
The Sunshine League’s Children’s Home closed its doors on August 31.
Government said it was unable to take over the running of the care home as it was “unsustainable”.
“It is not deemed viable for the Government to assume operational responsibility that would allow The Sunshine League to continue as a 24-hour residential care facility,” said Glenn Blakeney, Minister of Youth, Families and Sport.
The Sunshine League — founded in 1919 — said it would continue as a registered charity.
Illegal dog amnesty ends
Dog owners had until the end of the month to register illegal animals with Government. The amnesty for getting a licence for restricted breeds and those bred illegally ended on August 31.
Dr Jonathan Nisbett, Government vet, said the majority of restricted breeds were pit bulls, such as the dog pictured.
“On September 1 we will start enforcing the law and people may start losing their dogs,” he said.
The amnesty aimed to reduce banned breeds by getting owners to have their pets spayed or neutered under licence.
9Beaches: Go, go cabanas
Eco-resort 9Beaches announced it was selling off its cabanas to make way for its $80 million redevelopment. Up to 20 canvas huts were up for sale — a snip at $3,000 each.
Buyers were invited to cart off the entire structure, with canvas roof, wooden floor, bathroom toilet and sink. Although they could double as small apartments, ‘change of use’ planning permission was needed first.
Resort owner David Dodwell said most buyers saw the cabanas as potential storage or tool sheds.
As the recession deepened, more job losses were announced on the island. Berkeley Institute said it was to cut its support staff in half — making eight people redundant — to meet a $3 million budget cut for the 2011-12 school year.
The island’s other public high school, CedarBridge Academy, was also forced to axe three support staff in response to budget cuts.
Ed Ball, Bermuda Public Services Union general secretary, said: “Everything that can be done to conserve jobs should be done, and that hasn’t happened.”
Year in Review 2011