Fire guts vulcanizing shop, house; arson suspected
Millions of dollars went up in flames during an early morning fire that completely gutted a vulcanizing shop and an adjoining house at the corner of Durban and George Streets, Georgetown.
A total of 18 people are now homeless, including 12 Venezuelan nationals who resided in the house.
The owner of the shop, Kevin Phillips, believes that the fire was caused by arson.
Phillips, who stood and watched as firefighters doused pockets of fire on what remained of his business, told the News Room that he was awakened by the constant barking of his dogs at around 01:00hrs.
Upon checking, he reportedly saw two men riding away from the side of his property. Phillips lived upstairs of the vulcanizing shop with his family of six.
Phillips told the News Room that as he watched the men rode away, his next-door neighbour began shouting “fire”.
“When I opened the window to see where the fire was, it was at the side of my house,” Phillips said.
“We tried to contain the fire but we could not and we tried to save some things but we did not get to do that, everything burn.
“We sell electric bicycles, all of them burn, people credit bicycles, all that burn too, all my equipment, millions of dollars,” the distraught businessman lamented.
Phillips also said he had no insurance for the building.
Meanwhile, about 12 Venezuelan migrants lived in the adjoining house that was also destroyed.
While they spoke little English, they managed to relay that they were unable to save anything.
“We no save nothing, nothing, just clothes we have on,” one woman said.
Meanwhile, Haimchandra Persaud, the Divisional Officer in charge of operations at the Guyana Fire Service, told the News Room that four fire tenders responded to the call made at 1:45hrs; he said by 03:00hrs, firefighters managed to control the blaze, preventing it from spreading to nearby properties.
Exquisite Jewellery and Pawn Shop located next door suffered damage at the top flat and heat damage to the western walls, Persaud explained.
Additionally, a spare parts store located to the south was also saved. Investigations are ongoing.