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Bamboo Settlement No 2 is a disaster waiting to happen, says businessman Inshan Ishmael. Ishmael’s business, ROC Pick Up Parts, was destroyed by fire yesterday morning, causing a loss, according to Ishmael, of around $12 million. The fire, which started at around 9 am, gutted his Bamboo Settlement property, causing minor damage to the home of a neighbour.
Ishmael said he and his 16 employees were alerted to smoke from the back of the business and were assisted by neighbours, who used extinguishers to put out the fire. But he said by the time fire officers from the San Juan Fire Station arrived, a quarter of the structure had already been destroyed.
Before the fire could spread further to the Islamic Broadcasting Network television station, rain fell. In an interview yesterday, Ishmael said he was less concerned about the property damage than what he considered a devastating situation in the community.
“In a village with 92 businesses, the closest fire hydrant is in Mendez Drive, Champ Fleurs,” he said. “This is material thing. I am not too worried about this. If it was a choice between getting cancer and having my business burnt down, I would choose the business being burnt.” He said his staff would continue to be employed. Ishmael’s biggest concern was that most of the businesses within the community dealt with gas and diesel products. He said the Government had put nothing in place to help during emergency situations.
“This could have been avoided...The first set of firemen ran out of water and they tried their best, given the situation,” he said. Ishmael said if it weren’t for his “brothers” at the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) sending water trucks, things could have turned out worse.
He said he had been begging the Government for fire hydrants, regulated parking in the area and for alternative entry and exit points to the community. He also said then minister of Works and Transport Jack Warner had approved a bridge but the project was cancelled after consultation with Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar. “All I wanted for my village was a fire hydrant and access roads for people to get in and out of the village.”
Fire substation officer Noel said the cause of the fire was yet to be determined. “The compound has multiple business places, with a number of operations taking place at the time the fire started,” he said. He also mentioned that there was evidence of extensive efforts “in house” to extinguish the flames. Investigations are continuing into the cause of the fire.