Ogle residents affected by smoke and fumes from bond fire

Days after a fire ravaged the Beepat’s warehouse and a house at Temple Street, Ogle residents of the area are still affected by smoke emanating from the bond site, and are upset that at the fire service’s lack of attention to it.

“You would think that the fire people at least know that there are combustible stuff in there that they would wait until the fire outs and the smoke subsides before they go away… not three days after they running to do what could have been done then,” a resident who lives west of the bond said.

Residents yesterday complained bitterly about the effect of the smoke. However, they were reluctant to have their names published for fear of victimization.

A fireman working at the scene yesterday.
A fireman working at the scene yesterday.

According to reports, and which were corroborated by fire officers at the scene, the fire started in the Beepat’s warehouse at around 10:30 am on Friday. 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.

It is not yet known what caused the fire, but an operational officer of the Guyana Fire Service (GFS), Joseph Mc Donald, had 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.

Yesterday, an employee of the GFS explained that since Friday several calls were made by residents about the smoke and each time the fire service responded promptly.

Residents said that yesterday morning the smoke was at its worst, with the nearby nursery school calling parents to collect their children because it was so unbearable. Teachers apparently feared respiratory complications since some of the children had already began to exhibit same.

“When we wake up [yesterday morning] this whole place white, white, white… During the night you hearing explosion after explosion and I have to be up checking to ensure that nothing happens to my property,” another resident stated.

“The fire service left on Friday and there was still smoke they knew that there were things in there that will explode and could possibly cause another fire but they left anyway. They didn’t come to check we had to call them and look up to now they still can’t fix it,” a housewife pointed out.

Some residents questioned the bond being in the area in the first place saying that regulatory agencies were not doing their jobs. “How can you have a… bond, fence to fence, in a residential neighbourhood?” one resident questioned.

“When people have money they believe they are invincible and anything can happen. Now the bond is insured [but] that house isn’t. What will happen to that girl and her children? And she is a single parent,” another resident said.

When Stabroek News visited the area yesterday afternoon firemen and a security guard were on site. The firemen could not say how long they would remain, but one stressed that it was not an easy job. “We can only come when we are called because we can’t be here 24/7… They are complaining about the Bagon can and them things exploding we have to be frighten too; we ain’t get any super powers,” he said.

Nonetheless the residents of Temple Street are hoping that yesterday’s dousing of the site would have been enough to quell the smoke so they can at least sleep without waking periodically because of the explosions, smoke and fumes.

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