Forensic lab fire in 2015 had destroyed office


The 2015 fire at the Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory (GFSL) destroyed an office, Director Delon France says.

“An entire room was burnt. It was an office. The fire was electrical. …That room burnt up because there was a chair close by to the point [and] when we checked the entire facility, a specific type of brand, all those points were burnt up,” he told Stabroek News last week.

The then Ministry of Home Affairs had described the incident as a minor electrical fire and said that attorney Nigel Hughes, who had highlighted the situation in a Facebook post, had exaggerated the issue.

The fire occurred on March 17th, 2015.

Hughes, in a Facebook post, had said the fire started in a socket with the buildup so intense that it blew out a glass wall, which separated the technical room from the rest of the floor.

During a recent interview, Stabroek News asked France about that incident and he explained that all the outlets installed from a particular brand were scorched. He could not say how many.

He said that in one instance the back of a computer was scorched as it was next to one of the burnt outlets.

In the case of the burnt office, France stated that a chair with cloth like material was close to one of the outlets and caught fire. The fire spread to other material in the room. Because the building is concrete, he said the fire was contained to the room. France explained that following the episode, a local contractor working along with an international consultant rectified the electrical problems.

In addition to replacing the burnt outlets, he said, the two main cables—one from the Guyana Power and Light Inc. supply and the other from the service building were—rerouted. “When they had the fire, the upstairs cable was damaged because of how it is designed… the persons who came and inspected after the fire, they explained that the cables were damaged …so we rerouted them,” he said.

The Ministry of Home Affairs had stated in a release that the fire was caused due to the proximity of a chair to an outlet, which burned due to an electrical surge and a problem which developed in one of the main cables. The ministry had explained that only a small fraction of electrical outlets were actually affected.

A US-based contractor who refused to do remedial works on the building had told Stabroek News that the electrical fire was a hazard waiting to happen as an inspection had uncovered many faults.

“The electrical works on that building cannot pass international building codes because of a host of faults with the wiring, beginning from the low amp wires used to the inferior quality materials,” the contractor, who requested anonymity, said.

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