Fire deals Westover Farm devastating blow
A West End farm suffered a major blow this morning after fire gutted its butcher’s shop.
The blaze also destroyed the island’s only large-animal slaughterhouse.
Westover Farm in Sandys, operated by the Bascome family for decades, said it depended on the meat shop for much of its income.
Ian Bascome said: “It’s devastating.”
He was speaking as fire crews continued to tackle the fire at the store, where employees of the farm also live.
The cause of the fire, which appeared to begin in an upstairs apartment, is unknown.
Mr Bascome said he arrived at the farm this morning and found the building ablaze.
He added: “I thought I could extinguish it by myself. But there was already an inferno behind the door.”
The fire, which was reported just after 10am, brought down the roof and floors of the two-storey building, which was packed with stocks of fresh meat.
Mr Bascome said the loss of the building threatened the future of the farm.
He said: “It’s been a challenging year for us. Unfortunately, we rely on the meat market for a large portion of our cash.
“It’s hard to see a timeline for when we will be able to provide this service again.
“Me and my brother have been trying to keep things going here but with this, I don’t know how we’re going to go forward.
“It’s a tragedy. This place has been in operation for so many years, and now this is what it’s come to.
“We’ll have to try to find a way to rebuild if it’s possible.”
He added: “We were trying to open up today for Thanksgiving.
“Because of this, we’re now going to lose that revenue. Even trying to have the butcher shop and slaughterhouse open for next week is a hard ask.”
A statement issued by the four PLP MPs for Sandys Parish, Jamahl Simmons, Kim Wilson, Kathy Lynn Simmons and Dennis Lister said: “Westover Farm is a Sandys institution with deep meaning for not just the people of our community but as a symbol of Black and farming entrepreneurial excellence for Bermudians across the island.
“This fire is a tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with the Bascome family and it is our hope that our community rallies around them to ensure that this important institution is preserved.”
The fire was confined to the building and did not harm any of the livestock at what is also one of the island’s main dairy farms.
Mr Bascome said the blaze had hit “close to home”.
He added: “This is a piece of me. It’s something I was born into. We’ve been continuing a legacy.
“This is a unique area that has been preserved as open space and a working farm.
“It’s not just popular at this end of the island. People would come from St David’s to buy their meat here.”
Parts of the building continued to collapse as Mr Bascome spoke to The Royal Gazette.
The fire hit after difficult years for Westover Farm, which was threatened with closure in 2018 after the Government called in the lease on the seven-acre property.
But the lease decision was reversed by Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, who issued an apology to the Bascome family.
Richard Bascome, whose sons now operate the farm, died in March.