[www.inewsguyana.com] – A leading Berbice businessman has died and his eight neighbours are now homeless after a fire, of so far unknown origin, erupted from his multi-million dollar establishment, completely gutting the two buildings early Monday morning, May 04.
Ayube Hamid, 59, proprietor of several renowned businesses in Berbice, was trapped in his Lot 35 First Street, Canefield Village, East Canje Berbice Home Line Furniture Factory, after a blaze broke out in the first-floor around 07:15 hours.
Reports are that after the blaze erupted, Hamid and his wife, Jameela Hamid exited the two storey building but the businessman, for reasons still unknown, rushed back into the building.
He never exited however and hours after firefighters and police ranks fought to find him, the businessman’s burnt body was discovered under the rubble around 11:30 hours.
The fire saw scores of Berbicians from near and far flocking the scene with some watching on as neighbours and firefighters worked assiduously to contain the blaze.
The main source of contention of the residents was the time it took the Guyana Fire Service to arrive on the scene. iNews understands that firefighters descended to the area around one hour and a half after being summoned to the scene.
Residents were certain that had they arrived in a timely fashion, the blaze could have been contained. According to eyewitnesses, the blaze quickly took hold of the large two story building which houses a furniture factory in the lower flat as well as living quarters of the businessman and his wife on the top floor.
The fire quickly spread to the neighbour’s house located to the south of Hamid’s establishment. That two storey house too was completely gutted, leaving John Bahadur, his wife, Debbie and six other relatives homeless.
Debbi said she was in her yard when she noticed the Hamid’s building was on fire.
“Me see me neighbour them ah run and holler and me run out ah road tuh,” she said adding that it was then that she noticed the businessman’s place was afire.
“Me dash back through the kitchen and me see Ayube whole place ah bottom afire. So me see if me can go scramble anything fuh come out but when me go out, the heat make we run out.”
Fighting tears, the housewife explained that she had lost everything in the fire.
“Me nah get fuh save nothing and in a split second, the fire start…eight ah we binna live there. Everything gone, me nah save a pin,” she said. The woman shared the house with her four children, daughters-in-law and grandson. None of them were injured.
Hamid’s wife, who survived, was seen grieving for her husband’s lost. When iNews contacted her, the weeping woman was surrounded by family and supporters and she was being attended to by renowned Berbice practitioner, Dr. Ganesh.
At the time, Jameela Hamid’s only wish was to stare at a picture of her husband from her daughter’s phone.
Questioned by this news agency, the grieving woman blamed the fire service which she said arrived one and a half hour after the blaze erupted.
“If the fire wheel bring back my husband, I will talk then,” the woman said signaling she wanted to comment no further on the disaster.
Meanwhile, East Berbice Corentyne (Region 6) Chairman, David Armagon said he was saddened by the disaster involving the well-known businessman.
He expressed concerned over reports he received from residents who complained that the fire service had not performed as efficiently as expected.
Armagon said reports are that the pump on the fire truck had not started quickly enough because the battery had apparently run down.
“That’s bad if that’s so because they should have ensured that the battery and so on were in order. That’s their work. As you know, fire takes place at any time; nobody tells you when a fire is going to start.”
Stating that his pronouncements are based on reports he received from residents of the area, the Regional Chairman noted, “I am extremely disappointed in the way the fire service has reacted to this particular fire that took place here this morning.”
Armagon said that he will be seeking the intervention of the Ministry of Home Affairs so that attention can be paid to the fire service to make sure there is no reoccurrence.
The businessman has been in operation for over 30 years. By the time the news spread in the ancient county, many were heard expressing regret at the way the businessman perished.
Speaking highly of his kindness, they believed that communities which benefitted from his service had suffered a great loss.
Hamid leaves to mourn his wife, two daughters, two granddaughters and approximately 20 persons who were employed at the factory.