A fire ripped through the Beepat’s bond and a house at Temple Street, Ogle, East Coast Demerara yesterday morning, leaving untold losses in its wake, though firefighters managed to rescue two rabbits.
A family of four lost their home as a result of the fire and the bereft single-parent mother could not quantify her losses.
Jonathan Beepat, General Manager of Beepat’s, a leading local food distributor well known for its wholesale/retail store on Regent Street, stood in stony silence as the company’s warehouse went up in flames. He refused to speak to the media.
According to reports, and which were corroborated by fire officers at the scene, the fire started in the Beepat’s warehouse around 10:30 am. The two-storey building—75,000 sq ft according to the company’s website—was quickly engulfed in flames and thick black smoke. The fire soon spread to the small house on the right, where Debbie Williams and her three children lived in the bottom flat. No one was at home at the time.
Scores of people crammed into the street to get a closer look at the blazing buildings. However, they were forced to move when explosions erupted in the bond, ripping away at the electricity poles on the road.
It is not yet known what caused the fire, but an operational officer of the Guyana Fire Service, Joseph Mc Donald, said that because the bond was secured by strong iron grills, and given the force of the wind, the firefighters were unable to save the building. He added that the fire service had responded promptly when the alert went out. Three fire trucks and 20 firefighters were present at the scene.
Earlier yesterday morning, two containers of goods were unloaded at the warehouse.
Mc Donald said that the fire had already engulfed the top-storey of the warehouse when the firefighters arrived and they had rushed to save the other building – Williams’s home.
A firefighter managed to break into the home, braving the flames but was forced to leave after explosions began to erupt in the bond. Two rabbits were rescued from the home and firefighters also managed to save a bike.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t save the buildings but we are doing everything to keep the fire under control. And now it’s under control,” Mc Donald told Stabroek News at the scene.
A teary Williams told Stabroek News that she was at work when she received a telephone call that the bond next door was on fire. Immediately, she said, she contacted her eldest son and they had rushed to the scene. Nothing was saved from her home except her two rabbits and a bike.
Williams said she had been living in the bottom apartment of the house with her children for the last three years. “I lost everything,” was all she said, overwhelmed with grief.
“I don’t know how the fire started but I was inside when I heard the explosion and when I look out the whole top of the building was on fire,” one man said, while pointing at the warehouse. “Thick, thick smoke was coming out of it,” he said, while adding that earlier in the morning he had noticed employees working in the building earlier.
Permandeo Singh said he was at work at the Ogle International Airport when he saw the black smoke in the air. He said he had rushed home because the smoke appeared to be rising above the street where he lived.
Another person living in the street told this newspaper that she had seen something sparking on the top of the bond, then there was a sudden explosion and smoke started to rise. The smoke was seen miles away in the city.
Beepat’s is well known as the local distributor of Nestle products.