Sep 21, 2010 News
– suspected arsonist on the run
Fire believed to be the work of an arsonist has left at least four persons homeless in Mahdia, Potaro.
Reports are that shortly after midnight yesterday, fire completely gutted a two-storey house at Seven Miles, Mahdia.
This newspaper was told that the house was owned by Steven Willie, a miner of 11 North Road, Lacytown, Georgetown. At the time of the incident, the building was being occupied by Shondell Perry who lived in the upper flat; and Sharon Paul, her son Jeremiah Paul, and her reputed husband, Wilbert Scotland, who occupied the bottom flat.
According to reports from the area, some time after midnight Perry and her fiancé, Gavin Douglas, of David Rose Street, Bagotsville, West Bank Demerara, had an argument.
Douglas left the house but returned soon after.
Reports are that Douglas began calling for Perry who refused to open the door. Some time later, the man was heard banging on the front door, but still Perry refused to open for him.
After his calls for the woman to open the door went unanswered, he turned his attention to the windows but again he failed to gain entry to the house which was properly secured with grills.
During his bid to gain access to the building, Perry reportedly left the house through the back door and hid in a clump of bushes aback the house. By that time the occupants in the lower flat of the building were awakened.
This newspaper was told that the furious Douglas was then seen pouring a liquid on the building before setting it afire.
Fortunately the persons living in the lower flat managed to escape with only what they were wearing. Nothing from the building was saved. The losses are expected to be in excess of a million dollars. Douglas immediately fled the scene.
Up to press time yesterday police were still trying to locate Douglas.
Meanwhile, in the wake of this latest fire, Fire Chief Marlon Gentle in an invited comment said Mahdia has been placed as priority on the Hinterland Fire Prevention Programme.
He explained that while Mahdia has been considered one of the most rapidly developing hinterland communities, the community has a major role to play in their own safety.
According to Gentle, while the Guyana Fire Service has their role to play, communities can do a lot more as it relates to preventative measures. He noted that persons are guilty of not adhering to proper safety regulations.
Speaking specifically about Mahdia, Gentle said proper regularisation needs to be done. “What you have is people just building, putting up businesses, taking risks without putting safety measures in place.”
He further stressed the need for community involvement.
Pointing to an initiative which Barticians took prior to the opening of their fire station, he said that Mahdia and other communities should follow suite in their own best interest.
Prior to the opening of the $17M Bartica Fire Station, the community had embarked on an initiative with the fire service. This service provided prompt response to fire in the area and other surrounding communities. In one instance, the group of volunteers with their equipment saved a building from destruction by fire.
Gentle said that the fire service is more than willing to support any other community with any such initiative.
In recent months this has been the third fire in Mahdia. One fire destroyed a shopping mall and left more than 100 people homeless.
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