Three businesses lost millions of dollars yesterday, when a fire of unknown origin swept through a section of the commercial zone in Central Bartica.
Bartica’s Deputy Mayor Kamala Persaud explained that she was participating in the town’s green walk and tree distribution exercise when she received a phone call.
“We were just about to wrap up the activity at minutes to ten when I received a phone call saying that W K Shopping Mall was on fire,” she said.
She immediately left for the area and by the time she arrived at the 31 First Avenue, Bartica site, it had already been cordoned off by the police and was engulfed in thick black smoke.
However, within minutes of her arrival, Persaud said, she realized that the complex was not on fire but rather three stalls which occupied a section of a privately owned lot on the southern side of the shopping complex.
From all indications, Persaud said, the fire would have started in the middle stall and spread to the other two, one of which sold food that was prepared on site.
However, the Deputy Mayor stated that the owner managed to remove her gas bottles before the fire reached them.
She went on to explain that when the fire first broke out, residents in the area attempted to extinguish it by forming a bucket brigade.
They were unsuccessful and a team of fire fighters took over.
Based on her observations, Persaud said, the fire fighters encountered several difficulties that lowered their effectiveness in extinguishing the fire before it completely destroyed the three stalls.
One of the difficulties was the lack of water available to fight the fire. Persaud said that when the water on the fire truck ran out, the firemen made an attempt to source water from the river nearby, but were unable to do so. They were eventually forced to leave the scene to refill and return to continue extinguishing the fire, which took some time.
However, they were able to prevent the fire from spreading to the shopping complex which suffered damage in the form of shattered windows, scorched walls as well as to its pipes and gutters.
Persaud related that based on conversations she had with the affected stall owners, they estimated their losses to be in the millions while other stall owners were thankful that they were able to remove their valuables and that the fire did not spread to other stalls.
The Deputy Mayor further stated that the entire ordeal has left residents in the area, specifically those who operate businesses, traumatized since it is not often such situations arise in Bartica.
In light of the fire, Persaud said, Bartica is thankful that no one was injured during the incident.