It has been another weekend and another major fire in St. Kitts and Nevis. This is now the third straight weekend, since the start of the year that the country has been rocked by early morning fires that have destroyed and damaged important landmarks.
While most of these incidents have been concentrated on St. Kitts, the fire bug this weekend focused on important offices in the heart of the Nevisian capital, Charlestown, just after 1:30am.
It is believed that most if not all of the important records and other government documents have been lost and this has been confirmed by Premier of the island and Minister of Finance, Vance Amory who said that as much as 99% of the documents were destroyed. He described the fire as a very serious loss. “It is a very very sad time in Nevis,” said Amory during a short radio interview on WINN FM. “We dont know yet, what is the cause of the fire but whatever is the cause, it has caused very serious devastation and it is going to affect, not only the administration, but the whole of Nevis.” He said the whole population would be impacted, including the business sector and persons overseas doing business with the government. “A wide range of persons would be affected”, opined Amory. “We have lost equipment, a lot of computers and other furniture,” added the Premier.
Amory said he is appealing to everybody to be calm on this matter “And we dont want anybody to be hyping this matter and blowing it out of proportion. I know it is a serious matter and the re-construction of the building is going to cost a significant amount of money to repair. When? We do not know.” Reflecting on what must be the sentiment of his entire government and the people of the island, Premier Amory repeated, “We have suffered a tremendous loss that is very painful but out of this I think we will be able to put things back in place.”
The Premier explained that his administration would now have to find new facilities to rent to house the financial offices and to undertake the work of the government. He said that once they have settled on the way forward and new offices are established the public would be informed but when asked for a timeline, all he was prepared to say was “I dont know but we will advise the public as time goes on.”
Other fires that have recently occurred in St. Kitts destroyed the embassy of Venezuela, torched the Secretariat of the OAS, damaged the Glimbarro Guest House and one week ago, the other destroyed a Basseterre building owned by the family of opposition politician, Lindsay Grant. Local authorities have identified arson for the first two incidents.
There is some hope however regarding this morning’s fire in Nevis with Amory saying that from his conversations with the Treasurer, it is believed that some treasury records may have been saved because they were backed up by the staff on a regular basis.
As the fire services and police undertake their early investigations, no cause has been formally established to date.