– estimated $90-100M in losses
An early morning blaze, suspected to be electrical in origin, yesterday destroyed Amerally Sawmills Limited, located at 29 Strand, New Amsterdam.
According to reports, the fire started around 03:00 hrs and quickly engulfed the main work area, destroying infrastructure and machinery, which from preliminary estimates was worth between $90M and $100M.
The company is owned by Anthony ‘Tony Gavaskar’ Amerally and his father Macaadeen ‘British’ Amerally. The elder Amerally is out of the country.
The son had just left the compound when the media visited the location, however, Contracts Manager Roy Jaffarally and Supervisor Rajpaul Sankar spoke to the media. Sankar said that as the supervisor, he lives on the compound. He stated that he was awakened some time after 03:00 hrs by the security guard, who told him about the fire, he immediately realized that the main section of the sawmill was on fire.
Sankar recounted that without hesitation, he summoned the Guyana Fire Service and his boss. By that time, most of the entire structure was engulfed in flames which were being fanned by a strong sea breeze, coming from the nearby Berbice River. The fire service, lead by Station Officer Kamildeo Edoo, responded promptly with four tenders.
Among the expensive equipment damaged are three 350 HP winches, pulleys, band saws, circle saws, electrical and other motors, the gantry, logs, lumber and boards, zinc, among numerous other items. What wasn’t destroyed by fire was totalled by water. The entire gantry will have to be replaced.
According to Jafarally, the operations which are widespread will be affected terribly, and the entity will have to be shut down for close to three months.
He stated that the operations at the timber grants in the Berbice River, the tug and barges , as well as the sawmill workers and office workers will not be able to function because no logs can be processed. He opined that they would definitely have to lay-off workers. Over 100 individuals will be affected.
Jafarally asserted that the company will suffer great losses, because they had millions of dollars in outstanding orders. They also export logs and run the contracting company Memorex. They are presently working on a number of contracts with the government, GuySuCo and other private entities, and most of these undertakings will be affected. He emphasised that they might have to source material elsewhere to fulfill deadlines.
This is the third known fire at the mill which has been in existence for a long time. (It has been in existence for about 80 years). The company sources all of its electricity from GPL and technician stated that from all indications the fire seems to be electrical in origin. The managers stated that in the night all the equipment are turned off and the necessary safety precautions are taken. Only the lights are left on. The company has an agreement with GPL where they must pay a minimum amount of $450,000 monthly for the three-phase system they have in place (110, 220 and 440 volts.) This money must be paid, even if the sawmill does not operate. Jafarally said their monthly bill reaches as much as $900,000. The company stated that none of the vehicles including wheel and track types were affected.
It was acknowledged that the fire service worked diligently until the fire was brought under control some three hours later. The fire spread rapidly, due to the many electrical wires, coupled with the heavy breeze along with sawdust and shaving. This combination made the firemen’s work even more difficult.
The management was high in commendation for the work done by the Fire Service. Water was sourced from a hydrant outside of the building. The business is insured.
Investigations are ongoing.
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