Fire suspected to be electrical in origin gutted a Meten-Meer-Zorg, West Coast Demerara general store yesterday morning, leaving three homeless and millions in losses.
It was the third fire in five days to hit the West Demerara. Fire-fighters were chastised by residents for arriving without water when responding to the 7.30 am blaze at the Saver’s Choice Bargain Centre, which also housed a MoneyGram outlet. “We see the smoke, when we call the fire [service], nothing,” an angry woman shouted. “They always late and they always out of water,” she said. “They coulda save the store.”
Fazela Hamid and her daughters, Marissa and Selena Rajkumar, lived in the upper flat of the building. According to Marissa, the blaze started at the main switch for the power supply, located in the store’s bond.
It quickly spread. Apart from the MoneyGram outlet, the building also housed a travel agency, a supermarket, and a boutique and sold electrical items, hardware, cosmetics, drugs, stationery and “anything you can think of,” residents said.
Very little was saved since the store was shut tight at that time of the morning. Owner, Abdul Hamid called “Bulla,” said the store was insured.
Marissa said that after noticing the fire, they called Hamid and the Fire Service. She said the fire-fighters took about 15 minutes to arrive and when they did, they had no water. “They tek actually half an hour to get water,” said a relative. Water was eventually sourced from a trench.
Persons tried to get into sections of the heavily-secured building to save items but were thwarted by the thick grillwork. Brief rain showers helped contain the fire but even this was not enough and the entire building was gutted. Fazela said they saved nothing from where they lived. “Right now we in shock,” she said.
Hamid said that when he arrived, the fire was raging. “I try to put it out but I can’t,” the upset man said.
He said that losses ran into millions of dollars, including new stock. The family said that over the past several days, electricity supply fluctuated and Guyana Power and Light Inc was contacted but said they could not do anything. They said that blackouts and low voltage were prevalent over the past days.
The fire is the third to hit the West Demerara over the past five days. On Monday, a fire of unknown origin destroyed a Stewartville home, leaving four persons homeless. Lucille Ramnandan, 60, of Lot 5 Stewartville, West Coast Demerara told this newspaper that she was clueless as to how the fire began as no one was home at the time of the blaze.
Last Friday, the upper flat of a Leonora, West Coast Demerara house was gutted by a fire of unknown origin. Tulsieram Hurry was on his way to the airport when a neighbour contacted him and informed that his Lot 121 Sharp Street, Leonora home was on fire.
The fire, Hurry said, started between 12 pm and 1 pm. No one was home at the time and Hurry suggested that it could have been electrical in origin.
The fire service is investigating the incidents.