Charlestown fire: Woman, 97, among a dozen persons homeless

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More than a dozen persons, including a 97-year-old woman, are now homeless after a fire of unknown origin destroyed a Charlestown, Georgetown building on Wednesday night.

The fire which started at around 18:45hrs, destroyed a three-storey wood and concrete building at the corner of Howes Street, Charlestown. The owner had only recently carried out renovations, neighbours stated.

Some 15 persons were living in the house.

At the scene, Fire Chief (ag) Gregory Wickham told reporters that the building two other neighbouring buildings were “severely” damaged.

A fourth building was “slightly” damaged, Wickham said.

The burnt remains of a section of the building where the fire started. (Photo: News Room/ October 4, 2023)

Additionally, Wickham said one person sustained burns and was taken to the hospital for medical attention.

According to Wickham, an investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the fire.

In a press release, the Guyana Fire Service (GFS) said upon receiving a call, four water tenders and a team comprising of fifteen firefighters were dispatched to the scene.

They were complemented with three ambulances and six Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs).

Upon their arrival, the building was completely engulfed.

And while the fire was extinguished by 20:20hrs, the GFS said the building and its contents were destroyed.

Firefighters at the fire scene. (Photo: News Room/ October 4, 2023)

Yonnie Forde, a resident in the area, told reporters that while the Fire Service responded “promptly” the first tender to arrive on the scene did not have water supply to immediately go into firefighting action.

In response, The Fire Chief Wickham explained that fire tenders “always” show up at scenes with water. However, he said the supply per a tender would be exhausted “quickly”.

“The water in the tank supply is just about 250 gallons of water. We have a pump that is attached to that appliance that pumps a 250 PSI. So, within a short while that water would be exhausted and so they have to move, which is in keeping with our SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures), to an open source to water or to a nearby hydrant to get water,” Wickham explained.

The aftermath of the fire. (Photo: News Room/October 4, 2023)

A fire hydrant is situated in close proximity to the fire.

And, according to Wickham, the hydrant was used to source water to extinguish the fire.

“It was used,” he said.

As a matter of fact while he admitted that he won’t say that all hydrants across the country are “in working order”, Wickham said efforts are underway to ensure hydrants are repaired, serviced and even installed.

“So now we have a whole host of hydrants that are in working condition,” he noted.

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