A three-storey business complex, along with a neighbouring house and car, were yesterday destroyed in a midday fire, which erupted at Number 64 Village, Corentyne.
Reports are that firefighters attached to the Corriverton Fire Service struggled to locate a water source, which led to the fire completely destroying the two buildings and threatening a third.
The fire first began at the business complex, popularly known as the “Countryside Cinema”, which housed a functioning cinema, restaurant and hardware store, then spread to the neighbouring two-storey, fully furnished house, which had a car parked in its garage. The house is owned by an overseas-based Guyanese.
The business complex is owned by Dave Subnauth, who was unable to speak with Stabroek News yesterday, since at the same time his business was engulfed in flames, his brother was involved in a fatal accident at Albion Village, Corentyne. Subnauth is also the owner and operator of Channel 26 television station in the Upper Corentyne area.
While Subnauth, up to press time, was at the station tending to his brother’s matter, other relatives were at his business site assisting firefighters, who continued to spray the fire to ensure that it did not rekindle.
According to one resident, they first saw sparks coming from an electrical wire attached to the business complex and in a matter of seconds, they heard an explosion and then saw “black smoke and flames” coming from the building.
Residents in the area, who were very upset at the fire service, explained that the first fire began a bit before 1.30 pm at the Countryside Cinema and then approximately one hour after, spread to the neighbouring house, while firefighters who had already arrived on scene were struggling to locate a water source.
Clive Mc Donald, second in charge of B Division Fire Service, said yesterday afternoon that they were able to locate a water source some 400 metres away from the fires.
According to Mc Donald, when the Corriverton Fire Service arrived on scene, the entire business complex was already engulfed in flames. He said, “Immediately the crew went into operation because of the magnitude of the fire and the threat. They went to an open source at about 400 metres away and that is what they get water from an open trench there”.
However, he added that subsequently, backup was requested from the Rose Hall Fire
Service, which allocated a fire tender, while a vehicle from the New Amsterdam Fire Service also arrived on scene to offer assistance.
However, other resi-dents, who commended the firemen for their efforts, claimed that it was their “equipment” which hindered them from containing the fire and possibly saving the second building.
One resident stated that after they heard a “boom” and upon checking, saw the building engulfed in flames, they immediately phoned the Corriverton Fire Service. “We call the fire service in Skeldon (Corriverton) and about twenty minutes after it pass, zoom, because them did looking for water”, he noted.
According to Valentine Arjune, the caretaker of the house located directly next to the two buildings which were destroyed in the fire yesterday, her building was also under threat at one point.
“I think that (second) house could have been saved all because of the failure of the equipment because when they were trying at the back there to put the pump on the big fire truck, they took three quarter an hour. Then they resort to another thing where they take a pump and we jump start it with my vehicle. It’s running there till now and then we get water to come here,” she related.
Meanwhile, she relayed that around thirty residents jumped into action mode and began to douse her ancestors’ house, which she oversees, with mud and water. According to the woman, she believes the action by the residents played a major role in saving their house. “We start bruk up them windows and so let the smoke pass through just to save this place”, she relayed.
Additionally, she insisted that the firemen did a remarkable job in containing the fire once they had sourced water, since she said residents had believed that the “entire block would a burn”.
The business complex which was destroyed in the fire was recently remodeled by the owners to attract more customers. Stabroek News was informed that the complex was insured.
However, this newspaper was told that a Corentyne resident took care of the house for the overseas-based couple. The caretaker said, to his knowledge he does not believe that the house was insured.
The fire service is investigating and it is suspected that both owners suffered millions in losses.