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The Guyana Fire Service (GFS) rushed quickly to the Fogarty’s building on Water Street, Georgetown on Friday after calls were received that smoke was emanating from the building.
Fire Chief Marlon Gentle, speaking to the media after the situation was brought under control, said that it was important that the GFS contain the fire as soon as possible to prevent a reoccurrence of the Great Fire of 1945.
The 1945 fire, beginning at the then Bookers Drug Store, had leaped from building to building on Mashramani day raging for some five hours, destroying over 20 buildings and damaging several more due to their close proximity.
On the contrary, the fire at Fogarty originated in the kitchen of the Rose Bud Café and was called in around 09:32h. Quick action from firefighters stopped the fire in its track before it could damage the other business sections of the store.
Based on the risk, Gentle said that units from the Central Fire Station, Alberttown Fire Station, West Ruimveldt Fire Station were dispatched. For the first time since acquisition, the Fire Boat was also dispatched.
“When they got here, they encountered heavy smoke conditions on the lower floor with smoke creeping to the upper floor. We were able to go into a quick attack mode and located the fire somewhere in a kitchen. The fire was already spreading through the ceiling and going to the business area of the store. The crews managed to isolate the fire, attacked it and suppressed it,” Gentle said.
With the fire extinguished there were heavy pockets of smoke left behind. However, the building had been long evacuated and members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) assisted in ensuring that no unauthorized persons re-entered the building at its various entrances. Members of the public and workers from the building were seen watching on.
Later that day, the Fire Service worked on ventilating the building to ensure that the smoke was out and there were no other pockets of fire within.
The Fire Chief noted that while the response of the GFS ranks was swift, there were some setbacks in swift movement from the Central Fire Station due to its congested location. He said that it took them some eight minutes to clear the area.
Gentle acknowledged that this is a matter the Fire Service must analyze with the possibility for relocation. The possibility of decongesting the area is also being discussed with the Government.
Speaking to the Great 1945 fire, Gentle said: “This area is one of the high-risk areas in the city of Georgetown. We know that we have to have a very robust fire response whenever a call is made regardless of what the situation is…historically, this area that we’re standing on here was one of the areas with one of the most devastating fires in Georgetown in 1945 – the Great Fire – where this entire ward was wiped out. So, I’m glad we did not have a repeat today of this.” (Lisa Hamilton)
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