A 180-year-old building at Lot 150 Bagotville Public Road, West Bank Demerara, which housed the Good Life Chinese Supermarket and a bakery, was completely destroyed by fire early Wednesday morning. According to reports reaching the Guyana Chronicle, the fire was spotted at approximately 05:30hrs at the back of the building where the Chinese couple who owned the supermarket lived. The couple was renting the building from 67-year-old Herman Faria, who is still coming to grips with his losses. “I’m not a young man anymore and this was my sole source of income,” Faria lamented. He spoke with this publication as he surveyed what remained of the building which has been in his family for 180 years. “This building has been in my family for 180 years, passed down six generations. I inherited it from my grandfather. I used to live here but then I built it over and rent it as a supermarket. I did over the front building three years now, but the baker shop was 180 years,” he said. Passerby, Joan Adams, noted that around 05:30hrs while attending a church service a short distance away from the destroyed building, she observed smoke. However, she did not initially realize that the building was on fire.
“We were at the church, we go every Wednesday morning, and I see the smoke but I thought was tyre burning because I know persons around there have a tyre shop. But around 6 o’clock, I see the smoke start getting darker and I call to the pastor and I said ‘there’s a fire at Bagotville head there, come let we go and see’,” she explained.
When she got there, fire tenders were already on the scene. However, the building was already engulfed and the fire was spreading.
“You were just hearing pow, pow, pow. I don’t know if was the gas bottle or alcohol bottles, but as these bottles going off, the fire got crazy. I was worried about if the electrical wire might burst and go on the road, so I kept back,” Adams said. Several fire tenders from the Guyana Fire Service (GFS) were quickly dispatched to the location; however, they were only able to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby buildings.
GFS Station Officer (Operations), Clive McDonald, told the Guyana Chronicle, at the scene, that a call was received at 05:59hrs. He said a fire tender was immediately dispatched from the La Grange Fire Station, which is located a short distance away. Additionally, fire tenders were also dispatched from the East Ruimveldt, Leonora and Central Fire Stations.
“On arrival, the building was engulfed in flames. Immediately, the crew went into operation to contain and stop the fire spread. It was a bit challenging to get into the building because the security measures such as the grill work impeded us much. But, we got in and stopped the spread, and were able to surround the fire and contain and control it to this structure,” McDonald said. He noted that the fire service has already taken preliminary reports from the couple who lived at the building to assist them in investigations into the probable cause of the fire.
“They gave us some reports as it relates to what they saw and so forth, so that is what we are working on to surmise the cause of the fire. We have some theories and some tips, so we are still investigating,” he added.