Poor safety measures caused Parika Market fire; Fire Service takes no blame

Last Updated on Sunday, 12 February 2023, 22:27 by Denis Chabrol

The fire that ravaged the Parika Market last Friday was due to poor safety measures during welding at a steel frame for the new market, the Guyana Fire Service  (GFS) said on Sunday.
“While the GFS regrets the loss of the market, if the correct safety measures were followed, this tragedy could have been avoided,” that emergency response agency said in a statement.  The Fire Service said its investigators confirmed that the fire was caused by residue from a welding torch that fell into a storage bond and ignited nearby combustible materials. The building involved was a metal frame structure owned by the Neighborhood Democratic Council (NDC).
Nearby wooden stalls that had been located near the Parika Ferry Stelling for several decades were quickly engulfed by the flames that swept through the area.
While the Fire Service refuted reports of late arrival of fire fighters without water, the agency cited other reasons for the devastation. “Due to high winds and the clustering of the area that fueled the fire, the entire building and its contents were destroyed by the time of its extinction.”
In condemning reports in sections of the media that fire fighters arrived one hour later and that the tenders arrived without water, the GFS said that at about 3:14  Friday afternoon, the Fire Department was alerted to a fire at the Parika Market Centre, East Bank Essequibo.

The GFS said the first fire tender, which is located at the Leonora Fire Station, arrived at the scene at 3:36 PM. Other water tenders, a bowser, and two support vehicles from the Leonora, La Grange, Eccles, Campbellville, Central, and West Ruimveldt fire stations were immediately dispatched to the location, according to GFS.  “Five tenders, a water bowser, and two support vehicles, along with a total of 26 personnel, spent close to four hours trying to get the fire under control,” the Fire Service said.

The Fire Service deemed as “false” reports that firefighters arrived without water, saying that fire trucks carry 400 gallons of water, which is finished in a matter of minutes. The GFS said firefighters used water from the nearby Essequibo River.

“We sympathize with those who would have suffered loss, but we condemn all reports that suggest firefighters did not perform at their best given the situation.

Though it was a laborious task, our ranks were able to contain the blaze and prevent damage to many other nearby buildings, such as the post office, police station, and other private businesses,” the GFS said.