— two buildings destroyed, pawn shop damaged
AN early morning fire, suspected to be the work of arsonist (s), on Thursday, completely flattened two buildings at Durban and George Streets, Georgetown. According to reports, the fire left 18 persons homeless, including 12 Venezuelan migrants, and the owner of the vulcanising shop from which the fire is believed to have started. The shop is owned by Kevin Phillips.
According to Phillips, he was awakened around 01:00 hrs by the incessant barking of his dogs. Upon investigation of the commotion, he saw two male cyclists making their way from the side of his property.
“I decide to check it out by looking through a lil vent in the wall, and I saw two persons riding away from the side of my yard, mounting on the bicycles, riding away from the side of my yard. And then, as I’m watching them leave, I heard the neighbour hollering, ‘Fire! Fire! Fire!’ Because she’s right next door to me. From my room, I could see on her step, and she’s hollering fire, so I open my window to see where the fire is, not knowing that it’s at the side of the building that I’m occupying,” Phillips related, to the News Room on Thursday morning.
“From then, we tried to contain the fire, and we couldn’t contain it. We tried to save some things, which we didn’t get to do, really. Everything burnt,” he added.
The distraught man said that he had lost everything in the fire, including a series of brand new electric bicycles, which were credited in order to be sold.
One of the Venezuelan migrants, a woman, explained in broken English that once they got up, they just “ran out”.
“No collect clothes, no collect shoes, no collect nothing. Everybody gone out. Document papers, burnt. Everything burned down,” she explained, looking distressed.
“ID card, passport, clothes… everything burn down,” one of the men pitched in.
While the firefighters managed to contain the blaze after arriving on scene, the fire damaged the western wall of the Elegance Jewellery and Pawn Shop, located on Durban Street, between Camp and George Streets.
While the value of the damage sustained to the building is difficult to estimate, a figure will be available by this morning. However, owner of the enterprise, Hardat Muniram, called ‘Ravi’, explained that some household appliances including stoves, refrigerators and washing machines were damaged from the heat of the blaze. He reassured customers of the pawn shop, though, that it is currently open for business transactions.
All in all, millions of dollars are estimated to have been lost in the blaze. Haimchandra Persaud, the Divisional Officer-in-Charge of Operations at the Guyana Fire Service, as well as Fire Chief, Kalamadeen Edoo, have both indicated that investigations are underway, and more information will be disseminated as soon as it is made available.