As store owners from the razed building at Regent and Wellington streets consider their future, the Guyana Fire Service is trying to determine the cause of the Sunday morning blaze that resulted in millions in losses and left many without jobs.
Yesterday, Monty Variety Store proprietor Mehul Jariwala said he had been up since 6 am on Sunday trying to salvage whatever he could from his store. He said that he still cannot estimate his losses since many of his items are water-soaked and others are burnt.
When Stabroek News visited the scene yesterday firemen and police officers wereconducting their investigations with the help of a crane from the Mayor and City Council. Many employees of the burnt businesses were also there assisting in salvaging whatever they could while their employers looked on.
The owner of Smart Choice Clothing, which is next to the burnt building, told Stabroek News that he suffered water damage and much of the clothes in his store was destroyed due to that thick smoke that encased the building.
Another nearby store owner, Rani (only name given) praised the work of the fire service saying that in addition to the building being an old wooden structure there were many flammable and combustible chemicals in it. She said “We are very pleased with the work the fire service did. You have to remember that many of the hair sprays and perfumes and things we use for personal care are flammable and when damage is already done it was the best move to contain the fire… They did what anyone would have done and today many of the other stores are grateful.”
Yesterday, Fire Chief Marlon Gentle said that investigations into the cause of the fire were still ongoing. He disclosed that the city council was called in to help clean up the debris to minimize the risk of the flames reigniting and also because the ravaged building was a hazard to passing pedestrians.
Responding to critics that the fire service did not do enough to contain the flames or save the building, Gentle said “More could have been done if there were not the high security barriers such as the grill work and the shutters. We took a while to get in …given the resources we had we did all we could.”
The storeowners said they are worried about their employees who are all out of jobs now and they have to try to get their lives back together as fast as possible.
Gentle told Stabroek News on Sunday that a call was received around 05:35 hours and eight fire trucks responded. He said that heavy grill work on the building posed a challenge. The stores destroyed included Manu Variety and Dilip Variety Store. The stores sold items including garments, electronics and cosmetics.