It took fire officers several hours to extinguish a blaze that eventually gutted a commercial building in Aranguez, San Juan, on Saturday.
The building’s heavy burglar-proofing and its stock, which created access issues, inside were said to have contributed to the difficulty in fighting the fire.
Chief Fire Officer Arnold Bristo said the fire started around 1.30 pm on the upper floor of CVS Cash & Carry.
“When the appliances arrived from Wrightson Road Headquarters and San Juan Fire Station, the officers would have seen smoke billowing from the top floor and officers engaged themselves in fire fighting operations,” he said.
“However, the challenge we have is that the building is heavily burglar proofed, as well as the stockpiles in the building made it very difficult for us to manoeuvre inside to gain access to bring the fire under control ... there’s a lot of combustibles in there.”
Bristo advised businesspeople to get guidance from the Fire Prevention Department on how to “arrange your place so that in the event of like something like this, access would be easy for us to be able to save your business.”
He said, “When they make it difficult like this, the losses will be tremendous and this is what the Fire Prevention Department is about in dealing with businesses in the community. We are here to help you in making your business better, not for you to lose it like this.”
At the front of the building, fire officers tried to break a glass window to gain access but could not get in. They eventually had to use a hydraulic cutter to get through the burglar-proofing and gain access.
An officer was also injured when a piece of glass fell on him and he had to be taken to hospital for treatment. Fire officers are expected to return to the scene to determine the cause and origin of the blaze.
The fire re-ignited on Saturday night but by 10 am yesterday, fire officers were able to completely extinguish the fire.