Less than a month after the Comfort Sleep Bond was gutted, fire returned last evening this time destroying the company’s factory also located in the Eccles Industrial Site, East Bank Demerara.
Fire Chief Marlon Gentle told Stabroek News that at around 6:45 pm last evening the Guyana Fire Service received a call notifying them of the blaze.
He said that he could not give even a preliminary cause of the fire as the focus last evening was on extinguishing the blaze and saving surrounding property. However he assured that detailed investigations will follow.
Gentle said that fire personnel from Georgetown and Diamond responded and although they got to the site swiftly, the building could not be saved as it contained extremely flammable items which were totally engulfed.
The focus then was to contain the flames to the building while trying to prevent other buildings nearby from catching alight. “When you have things like mattresses and chemicals burning you have to focus on the fire not spreading…we could not save anything here… look at the fire we just have to contain it and make sure no where else burns ,” he said.
When Stabroek News arrived near 7 pm the whole building was in flames and firemen were busy coordinating how to best tackle the flames. Head of Police Operations, George Vyphuis was commanding police personnel with the assistance of Assistant Superintendent Anthony Vanderhyden as they tried to keep the curious public away from the thick chemicals-laced smoke and directing traffic. Fire Chief Gentle arrived shortly after and began helping his men.
The firemen worked tirelessly as they soaked the Digicel Bond while containing the flames to the Comfort Sleep factory yard. At about 7:45 pm, the right wall of the building collapsed triggering a huge explosion which saw firemen initially retreating. They soon returned and were able to bring the flames to manageable proportions.
A security guard at a nearby business establishment told Stabroek News he heard what sounded like “a whistling thunder bomb” and shortly after he saw thick balls of fire coming from the factory.
However the security guard who works at Digicel’s bond, which is also owned by Comfort Sleep and is on the left side of the factory, said that he did not hear an explosion but saw flames and dismissed them as workers burning garbage as is customary after a day’s work.
“I saw the flames but didn’t take it for nothing because them boys is burn when deh done wuk …but when I go round so (pointing to the front) a see is big fire,” he said.
He then notified his place of employment, GEB, who in turn called Digicel informing them of the fire.
Digicel official Nadia Sugrim, who was monitoring the fire from the ground up to press time, told Stabroek News, that her company was notified of the fire. She informed that the bond is rented from the owners of Comfort Sleep.
Brother of the owner of the establishment, Paul Krishna, who rushed to the scene lamented to reporters that he wanted the public to know that the fire was “not natural” but would not go into detail as to what he meant.
He stated too that he received a call around quarter to six about the fire but dismissed it as a prank. When another call came in shortly after, his worst fears were confirmed and he dashed to the scene.
He did not say if his brother was in Guyana but employees stated that the man had only departed these shores recently.
Comfort Sleep Operations and Production Manager Deodat Narine, told this publication that he was still trying to come to grips with the factory fire and was too distressed to speak. “Oh lord this is what…I can’t speak right now please understand…” he stressed.
Employees of the entity upon hearing of the fire also came to the scene. A female employee, who asked not to be named, bewailed the loss of her job and what she thinks would be a bleak Christmas for her family. “ Me nah cry fuh de building …of course a sorry it burn but where I gon work this time of the year? You tell me nah? …” she said.
When asked last month about their losses from the earlier fire, Narine said that the owner was not in the country and he was the best person to talk to.
Amanda Chung, an employee had said that although they had not estimated their losses, the fire was a big loss to the factory. “My boss was always striving to get another lot to store the chemicals, because that alone is a fire hazard. We just used to use the yard as a storage, it was a stock yard really and not a bond,” the woman said.
Chung however lauded the firemen who she said did a good job in containing the fire. “We heard they did a really good job and were able to contain the fire. The factory was not damaged.”
Narine had said then that although the company had suffered a big blow, none of the 30 employees would be out of a job.