$10 million up in smoke


$10 million up in smoke

Ravaged Manchester businesses facing setback following fire

Observer staff reporter

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

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MILE GULLY, Manchester — Two bar operators and a funeral home director in this Manchester north-western community have been dealt a major setback as they watched helplessly as their businesses went up in smoke yesterday morning.

The fire brigade estimated damage at $10 million.

Howard Parkes, who operated Howie's Bar and Gaming as well as a small hardware store in the Mile Gully square, was distraught as he spoke with the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

“It is a disaster; heartbroken and all those things, but what mi ago do?”

“Mi have to just live because it nuh mek sense mi go down in tears, it not going to help…. People saying it look like a somebody light it, because the fire started from round the back there. When mi [reach] mi come open the door and by the time mi fi enter, mi realise say the top catch a fire. By the time mi go inside mi just come back out, because the fire start rage this side,” Parkes said.

He said the fire started before 4:00 am when his partner received a call that the business was on fire.

“When mi reach out here it was about five minutes after 4:00, but it did start burn from before. People say dem did a call mi and nah get mi. A mi girlfriend dem call,” he said.

Parkes lost everything in his bar and the small hardware.

“Mi did have 10 poker boxes in there, a monitor box there, a fridge weh mi buy about two weeks ago, and two fans. The money made from poker bun up in deh. The bar money weh mi make [gone]. Everything in deh same way... all burn up. Mi sell cement too and all 20 bags burn up,” he said.

A proprietor of Nash and Sons funeral services told the Observer that three computers, six caskets, a laminating machine, heat press machine, button maker and seven headstones were all destroyed in the fire.

“Is a call me get say the bar dem on fire then mi get a next call say mi business deh pon fire too,” said the proprietor, who asked not to be identified.

The funeral home operated an office and showroom in Mile Gully.

Deputy Superintendent at the Jamaica Fire Brigade Rohan Powell told the Observer that firefighters got the call minutes after 5:00. “We turned out two units, a water tanker and a pumper to the scene. When we got there the building was fully engulfed and all sections of what was ablaze was totally lost,” he said.

The cause of the fire had not been ascertained up to press time.

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