“My heart breaks… How do I start over?” – Colours of India owner after fire guts family home, businesses

Ravi Latchman (inset) whose family's home and businesses were destroyed by fire on Friday

The mid-afternoon fire that gutted the popular Colours of India Boutique on the West Coast of Berbice occurred just a few days shy of the business’s 10th anniversary, devastating its owners.

Ravi Latchman, who runs the business along with his family, said on social media that he had stocked up the store, which is known for its array of Indian outfits including bridal wear and accessories, in preparation for the upcoming anniversary on Sunday.

The aftermath of Friday’s fire

Latchman is currently out of the country and made a series of Facebook posts including one to show the aftermath of Friday’s fire.

“I left my beautiful home & this is what I am going to return home seeing. My heart breaks… How do I start over? How can I provide for my family again? Tell me this is a dream. I don’t have the strength to go home anymore.”

“This is what my beautiful Colours of India turned to… I stocked you up so much before I left Guyana. I’m returning to ashes. This is what I am returning too. Our home is gone. This is too much for me to handle.”

“This is not easy for me nor my family… My Colours of India is gone, turned to ashes. Our home is gone. Burned to ashes. I’m not around & this is extremely hard for me, everything I worked for & built from scratch, sweat & tears has gone up in flames.”

The fire ravaging the Latchman family’s home and businesses on Friday afternoon

The fire started sometime around 15:00h at the Lot D 16 Bath Settlement, WCB, residence, which housed the popular boutique as well as a mechanic shop next door.

The mid-afternoon blaze has left eight persons homeless and also destroyed about 16 cars belonging to one of the business persons while several other vehicles at the mechanic shop were also damaged.

Residents reported seeing several vehicles on fire.

Ravi’s mother, 52-year-old Seelochanie Latchman, who also runs the business, related that she hearda noise and thought her grandson had knocked over something so she called on her daughter-in-law to check it out.

“When she run [to see what had happened], she said fire, fire! When I go upstairs, there was nothing we could do. The whole house was on fire [and] everybody run out,” the woman explained this morning.

One of the destroyed cars

Her other son, Mahindra Latchman, who operates the mechanic shop, averaged about 15 to 16 vehicles were destroyed – most of which were his.

“My cars, my equipment, parts – everything [were destroyed]… One was a customer’s [vehicle so] basically most was mine… even to my Prado, Lexus, my sports car and my personal car.”

“My father and so wasn’t home. My big brother and small brother [aren’t around].  It was just me alone. Couple neighbours and friends helped me to evacuate the vehicles,” Mahindra recalled.

While the Guyana Fire Service is investigating the cause, the Latchman family believes that the fire was electrical in origin.

Some of the vehicles damaged in the fire

Suresh Latchman, who was not at home when the fire started, told reporters today that “It was an electrical fire. Only that I can think of sound my wife told me she heard.”

“A guy, who was passing, he run in to help and pulled out two racks of clothing out to the road and he came in for a class case and the ceiling start dropping. But he said his eyes happen to glance up by the door and he saw blue flames… and where he saw those blue flames that’s where the breaker was and the main switch but the house was already on fire so I don’t know if it was a feedback or whatever caused that,” Suresh indicated.

Meanwhile, the house, businesses and vehicles which the Latchmans own were not insured against fire.

As investigations continue, the senior Latchman says options are now limited and the family will have to decide on their next steps.