By Tracey Khan Drakes
[www.inewsguyana.com] – From all indications the cause of the fire that completely destroyed the Historic Umana Yana structure this afternoon is suspected to be electrical in nature, according to the Officer in charge of Operations at the Guyana Fire Service, Compton Sparman.
Sparman told reporters, soon after the blaze, that the fire crew got to the scene within minutes; however, they were unable to save the structure since it was already almost gutted. the fire lasted for approximately 15 minutes.
“Based on information and there is nothing in there that could have start a fire its only electrical, the building was powered electrically, there was no cooking no human activities going around to start a fire, fire don’t happen, its caused,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Culture Dr. Frank Anthony says the incident was “devastating” even as he promised to have the rebuilding of the Umana Yana included in the 2015 budget.
Further he explained that its destruction will be felt now more than ever; pointing out that the country is currently celebrating Amerindian Heritage Month and a number of activities have been planned to observe the month’s celebration.
“We will then have to maybe include this for next year’s budget because this is an important heritage building for us and we would want to see it erected back as fast as possible,” Dr. Anthony said.
He also praised the Guyana Fire Service for its prompt response. “unfortunately the nature of the building itself caused it to burn fast … because its thatched roof in a couple of minutes the whole roof went, we are however, happy that no one was injured we have some staff here but no one was injured and of course.”
The 55-foot high cone-shaped benab (or shelter) was constructed by Amerindians of the Wai Wai tribe from thatched allibanna and manicole palm leaves, and wallaba posts lashed together with mukru, turu and nabbi vines.
It was specially constructed to serve as a V.I.P. lounge and recreation spot during the Non-Aligned Foreign Ministers Conference held in Georgetown in August 1972.