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Fire razes oldest Jehovah's Witnesses' building in MoBay

Horace Hines

Saturday, October 20, 2012    

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — The St James Fire Department were up to late yesterday still trying to ascertain the cause of an early morning fire which razed a section of the oldest Jehovah's Witnesses kingdom hall and an adjoining abandoned building on Queen Street here.

A preliminary estimate puts the losses at $15 million. The building was insured.

The kingdom hall was the first to be established in the parish.

According to Dolphin Doeman, superintendent of the St James Division of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, four units responded to a call about 4:43 am that the abandoned building was on fire.

The fire subsequently spread to the adjoining kingdom hall. The firefighters were, however, successful in preventing the blaze from spreading to other buildings on the cluttered street.

Church member Clarence Forbes said only a library towards the front of the building was spared.

"The fire started at this (abandoned) building and spread to kingdom hall and caused severe damage; we just managed to save the library. That's all that was saved," he said.

He said, come Sunday, the more than 100 members will have to worship at other kingdom halls across the resort city.

"We will always meet. If it is even under a tree, we will meet. This [kingdom hall church is the oldest in St James. This is where it all started," Forbes told the Jamaica Observer.

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