Massive fire leaves millions in damage in St James
Fire investigators from the St James fire department District Officer O'Neil Kerr and Firefighter Veneisha Bowers are joined by Melbourne Williams as they carry out their probe in the blaze.

ST JAMES, Jamaica - Two business operators in Montego Bay, St James are counting their losses after a fire of unknown origin caused millions of dollars in damage to their establishments on Wednesday night.

The Jamaica Fire Brigade, in it's initial assessment, said the damage incurred at a furniture shop and upholstery shop on Vernon's Drive in Mount Salem, totals approximately $46 million dollars.

The fire, which is said to have started just after 11:00 pm, quickly spread through unfinished furniture, machinery and other items.

Four units from the Barnett Street and Freeport fire stations managed to extinguish the blaze while preventing it from causing further damage to a nearby cooking gas retailer and a house. However, for Melbourne Williams, operator of the furniture shop, this is a major setback. He estimates the losses are in the millions. He is also lamenting the loss of some new tools that he had not yet had the chance to use.

"I don't how I'm going to estimate it but I know it's a whole lot. New tools that never use yet and mi have people furniture that finished and unfinished probably value bout $15 to 20 million," he remarked.

Williams, who lives on the nearby Crawford Street and has been operating from that space since 2011, now says his major concern is about the items for his customers that were damaged in the blaze.

"Mi have things for people, mi haffi get back people stuff. Mi have a bed for a lady who a call mi fi her bed from when and mi plan fi spray it today and look what happened," he bemoaned.

He is now looking at how he can move forward, hoping that he can get some tools so he can get some work going despite the circumstances.

"I don't know where I'm going to turn from here but it is a process. I just want to get back some tools basically, like hand tools, so mi can start work again," he remarked.

His neighbour, Anthony Evans, faces a similar predicament. His concern is mainly about the work for his customers that has been destroyed in the blaze.

"Mi nuh know how people ago react because people lose them things. Is not fi mi alone things lose " he said.

"All of my equipment gone dung inno, people material, people goods. Mi all just go a town (Kingston) Wednesday gone, go buy up stock and come down," he added.

He however noted that while he is willing to work, he is concerned about what it will take to get back on his feet.

"Mi haffi just take it one day at a time and see how we can build back," he remarked.

Fire investigators are still doing their assessment of the fire.

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