Regent Street fire ‘highly suspicious,’ probe almost complete
- Chief Fire Officer
Investigators are close to compiling a report concerning the fire which ravaged a Regent Street business property two Saturdays ago, with a top fire official hinting that the probe team suspects arson.
“This one is highly suspicious; we will close the file shortly,” Chief Fire Officer Marlon Gentle told Kaieteur News yesterday while declining to go into details.
The fire destroyed the Jaigobin Building, which housed several businesses, including Dalip Variety, Akash People’s Variety Store, Prakash Discount Store and Monty Smart Choice Store.
Kaieteur News had reported that persons linked to the building were at the centre of a High Court case over ownership of the property.
One relative explained that there is a “rift” between the four siblings—three sisters and a brother—who own the property.
But the relative insisted that none of the siblings had any ill feelings over the proceedings, and stated that the matter is before a High Court judge merely to ensure that the will is properly probated.
Fire Chief Gentle said that the Fire Service received a telephone call around 05:35hrs two Sundays ago, from a male stating that he saw flames in the building. Gentle said that the units responded immediately, two from the Central Fire Station and one from Alberttown.
He said that when the units arrived, thick smoke and flames were seen in Dalip’s Variety Store, which is located on the upper floor of the building.
According to the Fire Chief, the building was heavily grilled and contained shutters, which initially hampered the work of the fire fighters.
He further told the media that the building had a variety of items inside, such as batteries, aerosols, plastics and clothing, all of which would have fuelled the blaze.
The Fire Chief said that it took very little time for the flames to consume the wooden structure.
Gentle said that as the fire threat was raised, a second alarm went out and two other units were dispatched to the scene, one from West Ruimveldt and the other from Campbellville.
He explained that firefighters used the heavy capacity hose-laying lorry which brought up water from the North Road Canal to the building.
Gentle added that the Fire Service had to put up with two security barriers which caused a delay.
He said that he could not risk sending men into a building which had heavy smoke, adding that one needed to take the firefighters’ safety into account before they committed to entering the site.
Owner of Dalip’s Variety, Dalip Murjani had told Kaieteur News that he received a call sometime after 05:00 hrs. He said that he brushed off the call as a “joke”, but nevertheless went to his store.
He had blamed the firefighters for what he described as a poor job of containing the fire and estimated his losses at millions of dollars.
Kaieteur News was told that several bags containing money were also found in the stores.
Another store owner, Vivekanand Gansham, told Kaieteur News that he too received a telephone call sometime after 05:00 hrs and immediately went to the store.
“The building was on fire….the smoke was really thick.”
He told Kaieteur News that the original owner for the property died several years ago, but his sister Vidoushi Ramkarran rented out the building. This newspaper was told that none of the businesses had any insurance policies.