The man who was arrested in relation to the fire that gutted his D’Urban Street home and a business place on Saturday was released on station bail on Monday.
As fire officials continue to probe the cause of the blaze, it has been revealed that there is an ongoing court matter involving the Lot 18 property. The man, Jerry Chow, his wife and two children occupied the upper flat while they had rented the lower flat to the owners of the OD’s Fish Shop and Sports Bar.
Chow had told Stabroek News at the scene that minutes after securing his home and walking several corners up D’Urban Street, he was informed that his house was on fire. This was around 8:30 pm.
Chow who at the time was only wearing a pair of short pants and sustained an injury to his foot when he rushed into his yard, said that some of the residents contended that it was an electrical fire. The man said that according to one neighbour, the fire started at the side of the house where “the electrical wire run from the house to the box.” However, Chow made it clear that he does not receive power from the Guyana Power and Light but rather from a generator. He said he heard that the wire was sparking.
His arrest came after it was alleged that he was seen running down the stairs minutes after the fire was spotted coming from a bedroom window.
Efforts to contact Chow yesterday were futile.
One of the owners of the business yesterday said that she wanted to clear the air on a number of issues that have been misreported in the press.
The woman who did not want her name mentioned out of fear said that she began occupying the location in June of 2009 but registered the business in August of that same year. Showing this newspaper a copy of the agreement, she said that Chow, who according to the document was the landlord, entered into an agreement with her on March 10, 2009 for the place to be rented for five years at a cost of $60, 000 a month.
Two months rent was deposited and the businesswoman showed this newspaper three receipts she received after making subsequent rent payments.
She told Stabroek News that in March this year two court Marshals and a woman went to her business place and requested to speak with her. They asked her if she was “Mrs. Chow” and she replied in the negative saying that she was renting the place from Chow and his wife Sabrina.
According to the businesswoman, the Marshals then told her that they were there to summon Chow to attend court on April 18. She said that she then indicated to the trio that Chow usually came home late at nights and operated a business in Cummings Street.
The woman said she subsequently contacted her lawyer who advised that she stop paying rent. She told this newspaper that she last paid rent in March.
She said that after doing this Chow told her that he and his wife had bought the house for a certain sum and that she should continue paying the rent, when she approached them to find out what was going on.
“I refused to do so based on the advice of my lawyer and a coldness developed between us”, she said adding a number of things started happening including, a padlock on a side entrance that she used being removed, no garbage bin being taken out on the scheduled day and him asking back for some furniture he had rented to her.
She said that at that time, both she and Chow were using generators and she showed Stabroek News the receipt for hers which was dated April 14, 2009.
The woman told Stabroek News that after Chow attended court on June 20 she told him that she will attend court on the next occasion to “answer for you”. This she said caused a verbal exchange.
She recalled that on the day of the fire, she opened up around 2:30 pm and all was going well. She said that Chow had already left for the day and around 5:30 pm, she saw the wife and two children enter a car which drove off.
Around 8 pm, she said a customer enquired if something was burning and several checks were made but nothing was found. Minutes later she was called outside and on looking up, she said, she saw lots of fire in a bedroom on the eastern side and she immediately called 911.
She said that she went across the road and called Chow to tell him what was happening. The woman said she was shocked seconds later when she saw a shirtless Chow walking down the side step.
She said that he had to open the side gate to get out since it was his only entrance and exit. She said that at the time too, he was wearing no shoes.
She said that she asked him what was happening and after getting a negative response he went to speak to fire officials. The woman said that when he saw her approaching, he quickly walked off.
The upset businesswoman said that while at the police station, there was a confrontation between her and Chow during which he denied knowing her or renting the property to her even though the receipts were shown. He even told her to contact his lawyers.
She called on the police and the fire officials to investigate the matter thoroughly as she feels that there is more to how the fire started.
“I need justice… because I have lost a lot”, she said.