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$400-m fire

Four companies suffer heavy losses in Ashenheim Road blaze

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

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POPULAR retail fabric store Ping's said it was getting ready for the possible passage of Hurricane Isaac on Saturday, but instead of water from the hurricane — which is not a direct threat to Jamaica — the company is already counting losses from a massive fire which tore through its warehouse at 2 Ashenheim Road in Kingston yesterday.

The warehouse complex, shared with chef Jacqui Tyson's From Thought To Finish, Atlantic Hardware and Plumbing, and Chem-Quip Water Treatment Ltd, suffered losses which firefighters estimated at $400 million.

Ping's, From Thought To Finish and Atlantic Hardware and Plumbing were destroyed, while Chem-Quip Water Treatment Ltd was affected by water, smoke and minor fire damage to the roof, firefighters confirmed.

“We met [and discussed] how we were going to shutter the place,” David Ingledew, co-owner of Ping's, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday. Directors, he said, had also discussed what would be done if there was roof damage in the event of a hurricane.

Ping's must now decide how to move ahead following the destruction of goods from yesterday's fire.

Ingledew said the company has suffered a major setback.

“We were just congratulating ourselves, saying that we have everything in place for Christmas [as] we had got our shipments in from early. We had been planning towards that high retail period,” Ingledew continued.

However, the Ping's co-owner, who was awakened by a cellphone call to news that the warehouse was on fire, said he was unable to state the extent of damage suffered by Ping's.

“We have to assess; we have an inventory system that tells us where in our system, physically, things are, so we are going to have to go through that system and see how many items had been down there (warehouse). We just offloaded a container of goods into the thing (warehouse) yesterday (Monday), so all of that is gone for sure,” Ingledew said. Ping's, he added, should have time to recover before the Christmas season.

At the same time, Ingledew commended the firefighters.

“I was impressed because, you know, you hear about equipment not working and you hear about shortage of water. The trucks came with water and had backup of supplies; the amount of gallons of water that went into that fire [is unbelievable],” he said.

Fire Brigade Superintendent Andrew Russell told the Jamaica Observer that the brigade responded to a call at 12:55 am that the warehouse complex was on fire. Two units from York Park, and one each from Half-Way-Tree, Trench Town, Stony Hill and Spanish Town extinguished the blaze.

According to Superintendent Russell, it took the 40 firefighters six hours to bring the blaze under control.

“We worked assiduously in order to prevent the fire from spreading to adjoining establishments,” the superintendent explained, adding that their greatest risk was Chem-Quip, given the fact that the water-treatment establishment stored sulphuric and hydrochloric acid, among other chemicals.

Meanwhile, owner of Atlantic Hardware and Plumbing Donald Fung told the Observer that the company had just cleared six containers of goods within the last week and that the items were stored inside the warehouse.

“… All that basically has burnt up; [things] like doors were there. The supply time on these items is between four to six months, so there is no way we can get back these goods for Christmas again. It is going to affect our Christmas business,” Fung said.

From Thought To Finish proprietor Jacqui Tyson said her administrative office and loading zone were destroyed by the fire.

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