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|Several buildings destroyed… HEART ATTACK KILLS MAN AMIDST LUCKY DOLLAR FIRE|
|Tuesday, 31 July 2012 22:00|
FIRE, of a so far unknown origin, destroyed three buildings and damaged two others on Regent Street, Georgetown early yesterday morning.
One man succumbed to a heart attack when he saw the blaze heading to his house and business premises while several Chinese nationals were rescued from the store they were occupying.
The dead man is Ramdat Shiopersaud, 65, co-owner of Indra’s Fashion and Style at Lot 114 Regent Street.
His son, Balram Shiopersaud, told the Guyana Chronicle that his mother woke him to tell about the conflagration next door and he saw the flames and tried to get his family out of the place, where they also operate a store in the lower flat.
He said his sexagenarian father became overwhelmed by the impending disaster and collapsed but was revived and rushed to a city hospital but he, later died.
The younger Shiopersaud, in a state of shock, said the occurrences were a double tragedy for the family, as they lost their loved one, the business and home.
He recalled that, in 1987, a previous structure was similarly destroyed but they were able to rebuild and restart their trading but this time their losses has run into millions of dollars plus they have lost a father.
Chief Fire Officer, Marlon Gentle told reporters that the Guyana Fire Service (GFS) received the call at 05:15 hrs and, initially, three tenders responded, one from Alberttown Station and two from Central Fire Station.
He said it was reported that one store was totally involved and the flames were spreading to another. Firemen went into operation and the alarm brought out another tender from Ruimveldt Station.
Gentle said the tenders were backed up by a high rise truck with the hose lane lorry since there was need for a lot of water.
He said the GFS also cut a hole through the wall of one building to save four Chinese who were trapped inside where the burning started and one of them is hospitalised with burns on the body.
The Fire Chief said investigators want to speak to the male Chinese national who suffered burns because he knows what transpired that resulted in the outbreak.
Gentle noted that Regent Street is a commercial block and, as such, the buildings leap from one to the other with no definite separations and, given the fact that the structures are wooden with extensions added to some over time to adjust to the commercial needs, there would have been tremendous stockpiles with goods.
He explained that there is need for space, since it is a commercial district with more robust construction in buildings but the GFS saved those they could and did its best.
Gentle said water was sourced from the South Road canal because the one in North Road was heavily silted and a pump was damaged in an attempt to get from there.
He said that the GFS, over time, has been getting on top of such situations quickly and there was a reduction in the number this year, as the response was better. However, businesses need to raise the level of protection, heed safety measures; do not extend their buildings and over stock goods.
Gentle said the GFS reaction was quick because he went to the scene from Campbellville and it took him four minutes to get there, by which time the tenders were already in action.
He said the GFS managed to save the Lucky Dollar Store although the western wall was damaged but the building is intact with the furniture water soaked. There was some damage in the building which housed a restaurant and bar but three buildings, including Boyo’s Fashion, Classic Styles, Indra’s Fashion and a Chinese store were gutted as the City Mall was also saved.
At the scene yesterday, scores of employees who showed up for work were in disbelief as they stared at what was left of their places of employment, some on the brink of tears.
Bhagerat Persaud, a brother of Boyo’s Style and Fashion Store owner, said his sibling, who is overseas, accepted the news in shock.
He said the man was informed by his daughter and is expected to return to the country shortly. Meantime, he confirmed that their losses are tremendous, stating that, only last week, they received a 40 feet container with merchandise although the business was already well stocked with brand name clothing.
Meanwhile, Commander of Police ‘A’ Division, Assistant Commissioner, George Vyphius, who was also at the scene, told this newspaper that ranks were there to lend support to the GFS in cordoning off the area.
He admitted that, in the early stage of the blaze, there were reports of looting but, by the time the police arrived, the culprits had gone and the GFS did a good job of protecting the other buildings while they were there to assist in crowd control and preserve order.
The downtown Regent Street disaster was the second major fire in the business district this year, after the first on April 1, when several stores at the corner of Regent and Wellington Streets were gutted in a building that was the subject of a Court matter.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 July 2012 22:04|
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