The start of 2014 has been dominated so far by fires that have targeted various buildings in St. Kitts, starting on Sunday, 5th with the total destruction of the Venezuelan embassy and the partial burning of the OAS Secretariat.
There was also the recent fire at the Glimbaroo Guest House, on Cayon Street on Tuesday, 7th and now today, Friday, 10th January, the burning of a small retail outlet at Baker’s Corner, approximately 100m from the Police Headquarters.
The call to the fire and rescue services was received around 6:36am giving firefighters about two hours to bring the blaze under control. (Ag) Fire Chief, Everette O’Garro said it was an extremely challenging fire to tackle. He said they had a lot of challenges due to the fact that the building stored a lot of highly flammable material. He explained that that meant that the fire would have been burning at a much higher temperature, making it more difficult for those fighting the blaze.
The officers, said O’Garro, had to be extra cautious and carefully planned their advance to out the fire, and it took some time in the initial stages to advance at the pace that they would have liked… “The other challenge we had, which was a very serious one, was that it took some time for us to get the officials from SKELEC to get the power cut to the main line and so that hampered the operations a lot and the fire officers had to take safety into consideration and so in the initial stages of the attack we couldn’t do exactly what we would have liked to do.”
The cause of the fire, said O’Garro, is undetermined at the present moment but all information will be provided to the Criminal Investigation Department for their follow up action and investigations.
Due to the fire, major roads into Basseterre had to be blocked off causing some inconvenience to the early morning commuters heading to school and work. The Fire Chief however promised that those road restrictions were to be removed during the morning period.
The building is said to be owned by the mother of former PAM leader, Lindsay Grant and was recently rented to the wholesale/retail company, Food Centre, as their downtown outlet. Most of the products stored there were destroyed said O’Garro. He said that he also understood that the upstairs of the building was being used as an office for the opposition People’s Action Movement, but he went on to clarify that he is not certain about that information. However, during the last election in 2010, the downstairs portion of the building was used as the campaign headquarters for the East Basseterre PAM candidate, Glenroy Blanchette, who has since left the party to form his own National Integrity Party, NIP.
The Fire Chief praised his men for the good job they did in preventing the fire from spreading to other nearby buildings occupied as residences, in a district with a high density problem. “They were able to contain the fire to the area where they met it and they knew that the area was surrounded by other buildings and were able to prevent it from spreading to other buildings.”
Responding to the fire the leader of the coalition of opposition parties, Dr. Timothy Harris, said, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Lindsay Grant and his family. We stand with them during this very trying time. The loss of property is a serious loss and we anxiously await the investigation into the cause of a fire that not only destroyed a building housing a food business, but a fire that could have created a catastrophe in Basseterre.”
Harris said they are thankful to God that there was no loss of life.
“We commend the work of the brave Fire Fighters from the Basseterre Division of the Fire and Rescue Services who worked professionally and effectively in preventing the fire from spreading to nearby buildings. We ask the people of St. Kitts and Nevis to join us in prayer for the Grant family and appeal as well to anyone with information about the cause of the fire to please come forward and share it immediately with the authorities,” ended Harris.