Arson suspected in T&HD bond fire

Investigations into last month’s fire that gutted the Transport and Harbours Department’s (T&HD) bond at Urquhart Street, South Cummingsburg and severely damaged the Mings Products and Services Ltd boat building facility, point to arson.

A fire official told this newspaper yesterday that the investigation is almost complete and so far there is a “suspicion of arson”. He was unable to pronounce further.

Around 1.10 am on August 11, the Guyana Fire Service was informed of the fire and three tenders responded. Later, they were joined by three others and the officers performed valiantly and managed to save the Mings building.

The fire ravaged T&HD bond. (Stabroek News file photo)

One resident recalled that a loud explosion was heard shortly before 1 am and then the fire was spotted at the T&HD bond. 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 the fire then spread to another T&HD building, before reaching the Mings facility.

Transport Minister Robeson Benn had said that preliminary figures compiled indicated that more than $700 million in items were destroyed in the fire. He had said that the process is still ongoing and a final figure is still to be arrived at.

Benn explained that ship stores and engine spares like shafts and transmission parts for the ferries, pilot launches and the dredge were lost. The minister told Stabroek News that the ships’ spares was the “biggest loss” pointing out that it was only a few weeks prior that items were delivered. In the light of this big loss, he said, they were focusing on ensuring that the ferry services are maintained.

Meanwhile, Stabroek News was informed that investigations into two other fires which occurred earlier this year have been concluded to be arson and have been handed over to the police.

The fire official listed these as the May 7 early morning blaze that ravaged the King Solomon building on Main Street and the July 9 fire that destroyed a two-storey building at Lot 18 D’Urban Street that housed a residence and a fish shop.

In the first incident flames were spotted in the eastern section of the building’s upper flat around 3 am. It was reported that the electrical power had been turned off from the building prior to the blaze.

The fire service responded promptly and managed to bring the fire under control some time after, but was forced to return on three separate occasions after embers reignited.

Travel Span airline, operating as a travel agency was housed in the bottom half of the building.

Meanwhile, an occupant of the upper flat of the D’Urban Street house was arrested after it was alleged that he was seen running down the stairs minutes after the fire was spotted coming from a bedroom window. He was later released on station bail. It is unclear if he is still being considered a suspect in the case.

The property which housed OD’s Fish Shop and Sports Bar has been the centre of an ongoing property dispute.

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