MORANT BAY, ST Thomas — Vendors at the Morant Bay Arcade were left speechless on Sunday after receiving news of an early morning fire at the facility.
Late Sunday afternoon public relations officer at the Jamaica Fire Brigade, Emilio Ebanks told the Jamaica Observer that 70 per cent of the arcade was destroyed in the blaze.
“At approximately 6:28 am the Morant Bay Fire Station received a call of fire at the Morant Bay Arcade. The fire was confined to multiple structures constructed of wood and zinc roofs which were burning severely at the time we got the call,” said Ebanks.
He said firefighters based at the Morant Bay Fire Station could not extinguish the blaze and had to call the Yallahs Fire Station for assistance.
As the level of the devastation became obvious Andre Williams, who operates a cook shop and a storeroom at the arcade, told the Observer that he was hopeless.
“Boy, I don’t even know where to start. Mi inna mi bed dis morning when mi get di call. Last year mi start mi little business and now mi lose mi fridge, over $300,000 worth of pots, utensils and dem ting deh. Bwoy a swear it hurtful, it hot...me nuh know weh fi do, weh fi start; me just a look,” said Williams.
Damaine Minott, owner of Ink Legend X Studio in the arcade, said the fire happened just at a time when his business started to gain popularity in the town.
“I started the business in 2018 and it has been going very well. I installed new shelves and even bought a printer. Now everything that I had in that shop is gone,” said Minott.
For Raymond and Gerondah Thomas, this was a major loss.
“We have lost the food shop, tattoo shop, hairdressing shop and the dressmaking shop where we sell things and so on. Over eight machines were in the dressmaking shop and they are all damaged. I don’t know what caused this fire but this is a major loss,” said Thomas.
Other vendors on the scene told the Observer that they were speechless.
Councillor for the area Rohan Bryan (Morant Bay Division, People’s National Party) described the blaze as a sad situation and a terrible loss for the vendors.
“I will be meeting with the mayor [Councillor Lenworth Rawle, Trinityville Division, Jamaica Labour Party] on Tuesday to see the way forward. This is really sad and everything has gone up in smoke,” said Bryan.
Up to press time the firefighters were not able to provide an estimate of the damage while investigators were still trying to determine the cause of the blaze.