Classes at the University of Guyana (UG) will resume today even as lecturers in the Faculty of Natural Sciences are counting losses after a fire last evening destroyed the building that housed their offices.
Just before 7 last evening, the activities at UG’s Turkeyen Campus ground to a halt as flames engulfed the building within the Faculty of Natural Sciences. Students who were on campus reported hearing an explosion and seeing flames of varying colours emanating from the building, which was also used to store chemicals.
According to Fire Prevention Officer Andrew Holder, firefighters res-ponded from the Central Fire Station at Stabroek as well as the Campbellville and Alberttown stations and they managed to douse the flames and prevent damage to the main faculty building.
Holder, however, noted that firefighters did not observe anything unusual about the flames.
“When I got here, the fire was well in its peak and I didn’t observe different colour flames that would say to me that there was some amount of chemicals involved. The flames were that of free burning material, ordinary combustibles—wood and paper,” Holder said.
UG Vice-Chancellor Jacob Opadeyi told reporters at the scene that the biggest impact of the fire will be “the psychological effect” it will have on lecturers, who, after years of accumulating textbooks and papers, may be devastated by seeing them go up in flames.
Since there are no student activities in the building and the damage to the main faculty building appeared to be minimal, students will not be affected by the fire.
“The building houses mainly offices and two rooms are chemical storage sites. The functioning of the faculty will not be seriously affected. Classes resume as usual tomorrow,” Opadeyi said, while adding that the first order of business will be to seek counselling for those lecturers who have been affected.
He stressed that the fire will have no impact on end of semester examinations, which are scheduled to begin next week.
“If a lecturer set a question this morning and it burn down this afternoon, they can easily write another one because the question comes from their head. The most important thing is to focus on their wellbeing to make sure they are in a good place to function,” he said
Opadeyi further noted that the fire presents the university with an opportunity to put their firefighting facilities in order.
“Our fire hydrants are not working; we are lucky to have that water pond close by and that is where the fire service was able to get water to operate their machines,” he explained
The Faculty of Natural Sciences building is being rehabilitated as part of a US$10 million World Bank loan to improve the delivery of science and technology by the University of Guyana.