Saffon Street fire: Business owners suffer millions in losses, hoping to rebuild


Owners of the businesses which were destroyed in the Saffon and Sussex Streets, Georgetown fire on Saturday have estimated their losses to be in the millions and while the cause is yet to be determine, they are hoping to rebuild from scratch soon.

In a statement on Monday, the Guyana Fire Service (GFS) said after battling to contain the fire all weekend, it has been extinguished.

As such, the Fire Service said the area is now deemed safe for vehicular and foot traffic.

According to the fire service, the building of origin housed a large quantity of cloth and other combustible materials that took “some time” to control.

In an interview with the News Room on Monday, Fire Chief (ag) Gregory Wickham said investigators are working to determine the cause of the fire.

He said they are hoping to wrap up the investigation today.

The fire which started approximately 02:26hrs, destroyed at least two buildings.

It is suspected that the fire started in the building which housed the Hong Wei Supermarket. Five Chinese nationals, who were trapped in that building were rescued.

This building is reportedly owned by the proprietors of Ravina’s Anand’s Home Goods. A section of this building stored quantity of items including fabric, carpets and rugs.

The other building housed a meat center owned and operated by Alvin Rambarran and his son Winston Rambarran.

In an interview with the News Room, Winston Rambarran related that he received a call from neighbours informing him that the supermarket was on fire.

Winston Rambarran (right) at the fire scene.

“They said if we could come down and see what we can salvage,” Rambarran said.

However, by time, he arrived at the scene, Rambarran said he had no access to the building since the area was already cordoned off.

He alleged that a quantity of valuables that was left in the building was vandalised.

“The Fire Service did a good job…everything was vandalised from the store. Bandits and junkies stole everything from the store,” he said.

Rambarran said he was made to understand that the Chinese nationals were cooking in the building, resulting in the fire.

“The stories that I heard, the Chinese were cooking and it caught on the wall and it just start from there…from the upper floor of the Chinese supermarket,” he told the News Room.

Rambarran estimate his losses to be in the millions. He said he plans to rebuild.

“We have to rebuild…We would like to rebuild as soon as possible…Hopefully when the Police and the Fire Service get through their part….finish their work…we can start clean up and then we can try to knock up something and start business,” the businessman noted.

The meat center had four staff and Rambarran said he will try to dispatch them to the other locations in the meantime.

“For now we are just stunted and just trying to recuperate and move forward,” he said.

Vendor, Meena Persaud

At the scene on Monday, residents and vendors of the nearby La Penitence market, whose houses and stalls were threatened by the fire, were in high praise of the GFS response.

They said had firefighters not implemented the various strategies, the fire could have been worse.

A vendor, Meena Persaud, said she is thankful the fire did not spread to the market.

“…They (Fire Service) work – day and night. Them do they duty,” Persaud said.

Persaud would usually store her fruits and vegetables at the nearby meat center.

At the time of the fire, she said she had several bags of “load” which she had purchased to sell over the weekend. All of it was destroyed.

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