A fire of unknown origin early yesterday morning destroyed the Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD) storage bond at Urquhart Street, South Cummingsburg, while also severely damaging the neighbouring Mings Products and Services Ltd boat building facility.
Quick work by officials of the Guyana Fire Service, however, ensured that Mings’ main building and the office of Dr. Michelle Ming, an Optometrist/Optician, were not gutted.
According to Chief Fire Officer Marlon Gentle, the fire service received a call at around 1:10 am and initially three fire tenders responded. Later, they were joined by three others and the officers performed valiantly and managed to save the Mings building, he said.
He noted that while officials are yet to determine the cause of the fire, it started in the T&HD building, which houses a number of items for the sector, including ferry parts. “It is a huge building that has been there for years,” he noted.
Gentle said the Mings building was scorched, while an apartment in which an employee lived in the same building was severely damaged.
Stabroek News understands that Works Minister Robeson Benn turned up at the scene as the fire raged in an effort to assess the damage; however, efforts to contact him later were unsuccessful.
Mings operates from a cluster of buildings located next to the T&HD storage bond. The optical service is located in front of the damaged boat building facility, which could be accessed from Water Street, while the main building is located next door.
When Stabroek News arrived on the scene around 9 am, firefighters were still there. A hose was trained on an area near the bond that was still smoking, while pockets of fire could be seen in the boat building facility. Employees were loading items from Dr. Ming’s office into a truck at the time.
One resident recalled that a loud explosion was heard shortly before 1 am and then the fire was spotted. The resident, who asked not to be named, said that fire ripped through the bond within minutes and as a result nothing could be saved. The resident said that the fire then spread to another T&HD building, before reaching Mings.
“The fire reel came and tried to save the building cause it woulda get to Mings and that would have been the end of Mings,” the resident pointed out, while adding that efforts were made to prevent the blaze from reaching a nearby gas station.
Meanwhile, Mings officials yesterday expressed gratitude to the fire service and the police force for their efforts in saving their operations.
According to Audrey Forde, Mings’ Finance Director, she was informed of the fire around 1:20 am and when she arrived the storage bond was gutted. “The fire was way up into the sky,” Forde added.
She said that fire service officials too had just arrived and were taking steps to fight the blaze. At that time, she recalled seeing one fire tender.
Forde told Stabroek News that the boat building facility, located towards the Water Street entrance, was severely damaged. She explained that the equipment used to build the boats as well as raw materials were stored there. Dr. Ming’s optical office, she added, was also damaged.
It was the security guard, Forde explained, who looked over and spotted the blaze and then called the fire service, which responded promptly. She said they were trying to assess the damage and within the next few days they should know their losses.
Forde added that company officials “are breathing a sigh of relief that the fire did not spread to our main building because it would have been catastrophic.”
She commended the police force for its efforts in securing the area and ensuring that Mings did not suffer losses to looters, while Operations Director John Chin commended the fire service “for how they were able to contain the fire, [and] knowing they more than likely had some constraints. They did an admirable job.”
Mings has been operating in that area for the past 20 years. It is the authorised agents for Yamaha and Mitsubishi, selling the full line of Yamaha products including outboard engines, motorcycles, vehicles and water pumps along with the full line of Mitsubishi vehicles.