Mar 06, 2011 News
More than 20 homeless
A mid-afternoon fire at Grove, East Bank Demerara, yesterday, left millions of dollars in losses and more than 20 persons homeless.
Reports are that the fire started at a Chinese restaurant which is located at lot 50 Grove Public Road but quickly spread to four other buildings.
Alma Pooran, who lived in the upper flat of the two-storeyed building that housed the restaurant, said that she was only made aware that fire was in the bottom flat of the building when she heard neighbours screaming.
Mrs. Pooran said that she lived at the premises with her husband, Cecil Pooran, and 13 other relatives, including her daughter and grandchildren. The distraught woman said that the proprietor of the restaurant did not even indicate to them that the building was on fire.
“People say they see this man trying to fetch he thing outside. Is till the fire get big then people know that there was a fire.”
Mr. Pooran said that he tried assisting his elderly wife out of the building but by then a section of his flooring was on fire. He said that he sustained burns to the sole of his feet.
The couple and other family members managed to run out the burning house before gas cylinders started to explode. One eyewitness said that residents of the area had been complaining to the proprietor about the way he stores his gas.
Mr. Pooran said he had rented out the bottom flat of his building and that the tenants were scheduled to move some time during this month. In fact, he had already started moving some of his possession.
The family members said that they did not save anything but the clothes they were wearing. No one could ascertain the extent of their losses but noted that their home was fully furnished with all the necessary amenities.
Another woman, Yvonne Ramkishun, who lost her two-storeyed home located at 51 Grove Public Road, said that she was asleep. She was awaken by screams of ‘Fire! Fire!’
The woman said that at the time she was home alone. Moments earlier her granddaughter had left for school. She added that her daughter who is physically challenged was at work.
“I just run out the house. I couldn’t do anything else. I couldn’t save anything. All I could do was stand and watch my home go up in flames.”
Ramkishun said that her losses will run into millions of dollars as she too had a well-furnished home.
The other house which was destroyed housed a family of five, Neil James his wife and their three children. The lower flat of that building housed a liquor store. However some of the items from that business place were saved.
No one was at home in the fourth building that went up in flames. This newspaper was told that at least 15 persons occupied that building as there were two apartments in the lower flat and another family shared the upper flat.
The fifth building was unoccupied. Residents surrounded the victims as they each contemplated their next move. Representatives from the Guyana Relief Council were on the spot.
Once again the Guyana Fire Service was criticised for its response to the fire. Many shared the view that the fire could have been contained to the one building. However given the distance from Grove to Georgetown some residents say that the time in which the fire service responded was acceptable.
Also at the scene officials from the Guyana Power and Light were busy disconnecting power from the buildings. Persons in the area said before the fire tenders arrived on the scene they had formed a bucket brigade while others came out with their fire extinguishers but the gas cylinders in the yard where the fire started were too much for their efforts.
Up to press time yesterday no one could say what may have caused the devastating blaze.
This incident sparked a major traffic build up along East Bank Public Road. Traffic had to be diverted in order for the fire tenders to get to the burning buildings.
The fire service was offered major assistance from not only residents but police ranks as well who were seen controlling the hoses.
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