Market, businesses ravaged by fire in Port Antonio
MP Ann-Marie Vaz makes multimillion-dollar pledge to affected vendors
Kamal’s Supermarket and the adjoining Blue Diamond Jewellery Store which were gutted by a fire which started in the Musgrave Market in Port Antonio, Portland Sunday morning (Photo: Everard Owen)

PORT ANTONIO, Portland — Member of Parliament for Portland Eastern Ann-Marie Vaz has pledged to donate the entire first year increase in her salary to vendors who are affected by Sunday’s fire at the Musgrave Market in her constituency.

As a Member of Parliament Vaz will see her current salary of $4.331 million move to $11.077 million effective April 1, 2022, then to $12.532 million effective April 2023, and $14.179 million with effect from April 1, 2024.

"We give God thanks that no life was lost in the tragic fire which started in the historic Musgrave Market and affected other nearby businesses in Port Antonio, Portland, on Sunday. The fire caused significant damage to the market and nearby businesses,” said Vaz in a mid-afternoon release.

“I am already in dialogue with the Government and various private sector stakeholders as I seek funding that we may assist as many people as possible who've been affected to get back up and running in the shortest possible time.

“We will rebuild the market to make it better for both vendors and customers. This is my commitment to my #EastPortland family,” added Vaz who later announced that there are big plans to rebuild the space.

Residents of Port Antonio were awaken by shouts of fire Sunday morning as a blaze, which started in the Musgrave Market, spread to the adjacent buildings which housed Blue Diamond Jewellery, and Kamal’s Supermarket and Cambio.

The fire started about 8:30 am in the market reducing to ashes several items including shoes, clothing, household articles and farm produce.

As word spread of the fire, some vendors were able to save a portion of their goods stored in the market as they rolled out barrels even those which were water damaged.

While the firefighters tried to contain the blaze, it crept across to the adjoining building Blue Diamond Jewellery where management and staff moved quickly to remove items from the store.

Some residents joined the mission to save items from the jewellery store while others sought to enrich themselves.

But many of the would-be robbers were held by police personnel and security guards who took the pieces of jewellery from them.

Despite the efforts of the firefighters, the blaze then spread to the neighbouring Kamal’s Supermarket and Cambio, which at the time was open for business.

One vendor, who gave her name only as Donna-Marie, told the Jamaica Observer that she received an early morning call that the market was on fire.

“When I got here I took out two barrels but the people them just a loot. The taxis just park up in the road and you can’t get to move. There are two barrels that I can’t even find right now and is because of how the taxi are parked blocking up the place.

“It’s a sad day this morning in Port Antonio. I lost about a million dollars in goods as I was shopping little by little for graduation and storing them,” said Donna-Marie.

Andrew Morsby, who operates a jerk restaurant on the market, was thankful that his loss was not significant.

“I thank the Port Antonio residents as they helped me to save almost everything. We were able to take down everything. I am sorry for those who lost everything and the jewellery store and the supermarket that is still on fire,” said Morsby while firefighters continued their efforts to out the blaze.

Three fire units from Buff Bay and two from Port Antonio along with five water trucks were still being used to fight the fire some six hours after it started.

Up to press time, officials of the Jamaica Fire Brigade were conducting investigations as to the cause of the fire while the financial loss was not ascertained.

BY EVERARD OWEN Observer writer

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