A foreign-used car parts dealership in San Fernando was destroyed by a fire on Thursday (Divali) night.
Karricharan Maharaj, the owner of K Maharaj and Sons Ltd, at Palmiste Branch Street, Duncan Village, San Fernando, speculated that the mishandling of fireworks could have caused the $8 million fire.
"I don't know if it could have probably been someone playing with fireworks, I just don't know," said Maharaj in an interview with the T&T Guardian.
But officers of the Mon Repos Fire Station, who responded to the blaze, say while they are not ruling out that possibility, they are not certain what caused the fire as investigations are ongoing.
Maharaj said it took him 13 years to build his business and was astonished to see it destroyed in such a short space of time.
His son, Dean Maharaj, wife and eight-year-old daughter who lived on the compound were able to escape with minor injuries.
Fire investigators returned to the scene yesterday and interviewed several family members.
Dean Maharaj said his family was asleep after celebrating Divali, when he heard an explosion.
"I heard a noise around 2 am, something like it blew up and when I peeped out I saw the front of the building on fire. I woke up my wife and daughter and we just ran for our lives."
He said the thick, black smoke made it difficult to see.
"We had to run out the back, but we couldn't see anything. My wife fell a few times and I got a big cut under my foot."
The family was treated at the San Fernando General Hospital and released.
Maharaj said the building, containing the car parts and five vehicles, was completely destroyed.
Acting assistant Divisional Fire Officer, Ansar Ali, said when they arrived on the scene the building was completely engulfed.
Residents of Duncan Village, San Fernando, were awakened when thick, black smoke filled the air early yesterday morning, forcing them to evacuate their homes and run out into the streets. The smoke was from the fire that destroyed K Maharaj and Sons foreign used car parts place.
When the T&TGuardian visited the scene yesterday, one resident, recounted his experience.
"I heard a noise about half one, then the place just full up with smoke," she said. "We had to leave the house and run, all my neighbours had to run too."
The woman said worried residents rushed to rescue pets and other animals from the smoke, lining the street for hours, as fire fighters battled the blaze.
"Everybody was standing on the next side of the road, there were sick people, people with their little children and even people with their animals."