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The Guyana Fire Service said none of the prisoners including Clarence Greene, confessed to setting the Brickdam Police Station on fire, however, based on evidence, and interviews conducted, it has concluded that it was a case of arson.
Acting Fire Chief, Gregory Wickham and Fire Prevention Officer, Sheldon Sauns made the disclosure on Thursday during a press conference at the Central Fire Station at Water Street, Georgetown. The investigation was reportedly done by the Guyana Fire Service in collaboration with the Guyana Police Force.
Greene has been charged for causing the fire, which devastated the Brickdam Police Station last Saturday. The Guyana Police Force said Greene confessed to committing the act, but Greene, through his attorneys, has denied being responsible for the fire.
Sauns, who led the investigation, said in arriving at the conclusion, investigators relied on interviews conducted by the fire experts, the layout of the fire scene, and the debris collected. The fire reportedly started in the Fraud Department, which was housed in the Administrative Building of the Brickdam Police Station. That building is reportedly one and a half feet from the Lockups, where Greene was detained.
According to Sauns, the investigation commenced the very day the fire occurred, and evidence collected comprised of paper from the scene, pieces of wood from the building, part of a lighter and bits and pieces of cloth. It was noted that no sponge was collected as evidence.
In responding to a series of questions posed by the press, Sauns said that samples were sent to the Forensic Department to be tested, however, he did not state clearly, the specific samples sent nor how did those samples aided the Fire Service in concluding that the fire was a result of arson.
Asked by a senior crime reporter whether the samples collected such as the paper, indicated that it was a case of arson, Sauns, in response, said “not directly.”
Grilled on the factors that influenced the Fire Service’s conclusion, Sauns would only say that the Fire Service relied on both samples and interviews.
“Persons were interviewed, and coming out of those interviews, information, feasible information was gathered coupled with the samples collected, which would have led us to our conclusion,” he told the press.
But when asked whether Greene or any of the other 15 prisoners confessed to setting the Brickdam Police Station alight, Sauns said not during the interviews he conducted last Sunday.
Asked pointedly whether Greene admitted to burning the station down during his interview with the Guyana Fire Service, Sauns said “that was not given in the statement.”
Questioned further whether Greene indicated that he had used a wire and a lit sponge to start the fire, Sauns again said “that was not given in his statement to me.”
In fact, he said during the interviews he conducted with the prisoners, none of them confessed to starting the fire. It was indicated that interviews were also conducted with police officers and ranks from the Brickdam Police Station as well as persons who reside within close proximity to the fire scene.
Assistant (Ret’d) Commissioner of Police, Paul Slowe had expressed concerned that evidence was being destroyed during the clearance of the fire scene that very Saturday, however, Sauns told the press, that the Guyana Fire Service had granted permission for the police to clear a section of the compound that was some distance away from the origin of the fire. “The part which was cleared that evening was not the affected area or where the fire would have started, so it was far beyond the point of origin,” Sauns told Village Voice News.
Cognizant to the damages done by fire, the Fire Prevention Officer said systems are being put in place at police stations throughout the country to prevent a reoccurrence.
“Further, we will be conducting inspections at police stations to ensure that those stations are fitted with the requisite equipment to combat these fires if any shall occur at its incipient stages,” Sauns said.
The acting Fire Chief said he understands the loss and trauma caused by the fire, and the Fire Service would do its best to respond adequately to fires.
“The Guyana Fire Service has a mandate to ensure whenever we are called upon to offer that support and also we are mandated by the laws of Guyana to find the cause of fires,” he said.