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Feb 6, 2008

Fire destroys San Pedro business house

Story PictureThe attention of the nation may be focused on tomorrow’s voting but natural disasters don’t pay much attention to politics. News Five’s Marion Ali reports from Ambergris Caye.

Marion Ali, Reporting
The calm of Wednesday night in San Pedro was interrupted when a huge fire broke out at Wings Store on Coconut Drive facing the Municipal Airstrip. The blaze was reported around eleven and it would take fire fighters several hours to finally contain it.
Today the building and piles of rubble were still smoldering. Arun Hotchandani is one of the Directors of Wings. While the investigations have just begun, he says all indications are that it was triggered by a faulty electrical device on the upper flat, which was occupied by his brother, Anil, the building’s owner.

Arun Hotchandani, Director, Wings Store
“They were sitting upstairs in the home and they saw smoke coming out of a panel box. They went and they took care of it and they immediately called the authorities and from there it just took off.”

Marion Ali
“By this time the place was closed for business?”

Arun Hotchandani
“Last night, it happened very late last night around twelve-thirty.”

Marion Ali
“What did you sell and how much of it did you lose?”

Arun Hotchandani
“Well pretty much, we were into general merchandising; footwear, clothing. You know this is the main tourist season so, you know we were doing pretty okay. I think pretty much we’ve lost—I mean all the damages was concentrated in the warehouse but the entire store downstairs was fully water damaged. The apartment downstairs where our manager stays was pretty much all water damaged as well.

Marion Ali
“Did she save anything?”

Arun Hotchandani
“Not much.”

Hotchandani says the family is still calculating how much was lost in the blaze. And while they tally their losses, the Fire Department is now sifting through the debris to determine what exactly caused the fire.

Henry Baezar, Fire Chief
“I cannot say that if it was an electrical problem. We are not, we haven’t even start to examine anything; we need to out the fire first. We are taking statements from different people who saw what happened earlier before we got here. But we haven’t even decided if it was electrical or non-electrical. Everything is on the board, we haven’t ruled out anything as yet.”

Fire Chief Henry Baezar The task of fighting the blaze required help from the mainland.

Henry Baezar
“At the station they got the call at around eleven-fifteen and they came out, they started fighting the fire. When they came this side of the building there was smoke coming through the windows here, the small windows. There’s only one entrance into the building and that’s from the front. We could not come through the entrance of the building because the smoke come through all those stories of clothes and cloth and everything. The officer who was in charge out here decided that they needed assistance. He called me around one-something and we got in touch with the B.D.F. and we got our first set of people out here with some more equipment at around just after two o’clock this morning.”

Hotchandani says the two year old building will be dismantled and rebuilt within a year. Until then, the fifteen workers will have to seek employment elsewhere. The building was insured with R.F.G. Insurance.

Reporting for News Five, Marion Ali.

We’d like to give special thanks to Kainie Manuel and the San Pedro Sun who facilitated us with photos and transportation on the island.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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