News

Devastation as fire sweeps through section of Matthews Lane

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Print this page Email A Friend!


A blanket of smoke permeated the market district in downtown Kingston yesterday as vendors who said they lost their livelihood in a fire which started early morning pondered their next move.

The fire, which took 45 firefighters more than seven hours to extinguish, destroyed a number of stalls on Matthews Lane, a few steps away from the Redemption Market that was also destroyed by fire on June 11, 2017.

M&M Hanna Sales Co Ltd Textile Wholesale, too, was destroyed by the blaze.

A firefighter who was injured during the operation was taken to hospital where he was treated and later released.

Acting Senior Deputy Superintendent Horace Thomas, officer in charge of operations for the Kingston and St Andrew Division at the Jamaica Fire Brigade, told the Jamaica Observer that firefighters from Trench Town and York Park fire stations responded to a call at 2:58 am that a building and stalls were on fire.

However, their colleagues at Stony Hill, Port Royal and Half- Way-Tree fire stations had to be called in when the first team got to the location and saw the magnitude of the fire.

“We subsequently brought the fire under control. However, based on the nature of what is burning it took some time to cool down,” Thomas explained.

He said that it was difficult to save the fabric inside the building.

“The way in which the fabrics were compacted, it placed a premium on security; sometimes in placing a premium on security safety is compromised and so it gave us a challenge in accessing the building initially,” Thomas said.

Yesterday morning, vendor Andrea Gordon, who has been plying her trade on Matthews Lane for more than two decades, sat on a stall as the blaze swept over her merchandise stored at a barrel warehouse on Princess Street which was also destroyed.

“Every God almighty ting mi lose. See di place up deh suh all now a smoke; we cyaah even enter,” the mother of five told the Observer.

Gordon, who said she was at her home in Parade Gardens, better known as Southside, in Kingston Central, when she heard the news of the fire, said she was hoping to have saved some of her merchandise.

“When mi get di call mi hear seh di whole a Matthews Lane under fire, mi not even brush mi teeth [as] mi affi run out 'bout two o'clock and all now di fire cyaah contain,” she said.

“Everything gone and di firefighter ago tell me seh the store more important dan we higgler and we a pay tax; we a pay tax. Everything gone fi everybody might as well me dead. Dem a pay more attention to round deh so (Princess Street),” she complained.

Her claim was subsequently rubbished by Thomas: “We give priority to all incidents because we are agents of the State and so we do not discriminate whenever we make any response. We don't care whichever side of the political divide or socio-economic backgrounds persons are from, our duty is to save lives and protect property.

Another vendor, Desmond Clarke, who claimed he was a victim of the fire that destroyed Redemption Market two years ago, said it did not make any sense for him to visit the location immediately when he heard about the nature of the fire.

A woman who gave her name as Donna was uncertain how she would recover from the devastation.

“I have two children in high school and is back to school time [soon] suh mi nuh know what's next,” she said.

The estimated cost of damage by the fire was not ascertained.


Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive


ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Flirting while in a relationship is disrespectful.
Yes
68%
No
11%
It depends
21%

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT