– Building was center of property dispute
By Latoya Giles
A regent street building that housed four stores was destroyed, while others suffered from major water damage after a fire of unknown origin broke out early yesterday morning.
The stores, Dalip Variety, Akash People’s Variety Store, Prakash Discount Store and Monty Smart Choice Store were all housed inside the Jaigobin Building, which is located at the corner of Regent and Wellington Streets, opposite the Guyoil Gas Station.
According to eyewitnesses, the fire started sometime after 05:00hrs. Good work by fire fighters enabled them to contain the blaze to the Jaigobin building alone, saving other stores within close proximity.
Fire Chief Marlon Gentle who was at the scene told the media that the Fire Service received a telephone call around 5:35am 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 entire wooden building to become engulfed in flames.
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.
Many “experts” at the scene were critical of the methods employed by the fire service and openly voiced their displeasure.
The Fire Chief explained that firefighters used the heavy capacity hose laying lorry which brought up water from the North Road Canal to the building.
Gentle said that despite what people are saying, the Fire Service had to put up with two security barriers which caused a delay.
“The building was grilled, plus had shutters…” Gentle stated.
He said that he could not risk sending men into a building which had heavy smoke, adding that one needed to take the fire fighters’ safety into account before they committed them to enter the building.
Owner of Dalip’s Variety, Dalip Murjani told Kaieteur News that he received a call sometime after 05:00 am. He said that he brushed off the call as a “joke”, but nevertheless went to his store. Upon his arrival, his worst fears were confirmed. He blamed the firefighters for what he described as a poor job of containing the fire and estimated his losses to the tune of millions of dollars.
Meanwhile, as the blaze began to die down, other irate storeowners disregarded orders and broke the doors of their buildings to access their belongings.
With the help of workers and residents, they quickly loaded trucks as they tried to save goods that were not damaged.
Kaieteur News was told that several bags containing money were also found in the stores. Police Divisional Commander George Vyphuis had his ranks on high alert to prevent any form of looting.
Another store owner, Vivckanand Gansham told Kaieteur News that he too received a telephone call sometime after 05:00am and he immediately dressed and 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.
Sources have told this newspaper that at present, the property was at the center of a bitter property dispute which is engaging the High Court.
Back in 2009, a fire believed to be of electrical origin razed a clothing store, Household Plus and Electronics and DM Beauty World.
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