The modus operandi of firefighters Wednesday afternoon into the night at Sharon’s Building Fire can best be described as poor and without forward-thinking on the ground, the results in the end… millions in assets reduced to ashes and the livelihood of several persons disrupted.
What started out as small smoke emanating from the building for just about two hours, ended with a blaze that took less than 30 minutes to reduce most of the structure to ashes.
This publication was made to understand that while smoke was seen coming from the building around 17:30hrs on Wednesday, the smell of something burning was reportedly lingering in the building since 11:00 Am earlier on the same Wednesday. This was also confirmed by Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn who spoke with the press at the fire scene.
For the almost two hours that the smoke was seen coming out of the building, the firefighters did not venture into the building. Minister Benn said this was mainly because the firemen were not familiar with the wiring of the building and the location of fuse boxes among other considerations.
During that time, the firefighters remained outside of the building and spent a considerable amount of energy wetting the building which was mostly a glass structure while also attempting to spray water into the building through any of the few, window openings which the building has.
It was only at the last moment that the firefighters began attempting to go into the building which they eventually managed to do but by which time, it was too late.
During the period that elapsed before the firefighters finally decided to go into the building, the smoke had already taken over the entire building, floor by floor, while there was no active fire that could be seen from the outside, the smoke accompanied by the heat it generated, became pent up inside the almost completely sealed building, due to its designed and minimal window openings.
The heat would soon start bursting the glass around the building which allowed oxygen in and which immediately gave rise to a breathing opportunity for any small pockets of fire that were in the building.
Within seconds that the glass around the building started to shatter, fire could be seen emanating from mostly the third floor of the building and within five minutes, the entire upper, middle and ground floors became completely engulfed.
Under the watchful eyes of spectators, many with their phones out taking videos and photographs, the Sharon’s Building which once stood at the corners of Charlotte and King Streets with its massive tinted glass work was consumed by the raging fire.
The Guyana Fire Service responded to the scene with tenders from Central, Alberttown and Campbellville Fire Stations. Open sources of water were drawn from the South Road Canal and Avenue of the Republic Canal to aid the firefighting operations.
Evident on Wednesday was the lack of adequate pressure to push water up to the parts of the building which was blazing. Falling debris mostly glass fell on a number of fire hose, bursting them in the process and added to an even more challenging firefighting operation.
As the firefighters were busy on the ground trying to find their way around bring the situation, there was activity overhead which really did not add to the comfort of the firemen or police officers who maintained a presence to ensure law and order… The Guyana Fire Service received a call about the fire just after 17:00hrs, at 19:00hrs power to the area was not disconnected by the Guyana Police and Light Inc.
It was not until this publication made a social media post about the sparking wires on poles which also carry high-tension wires that the power company showed up ten minutes after and disconnect the power to the immediate area. This was after the sparks had those in the area, including fire and policemen running for cover.
The Sharon’s Building was home to several law offices and a number of other stores and establishments all of which provided employment to dozens of persons.
Last evening at the scene there was a notable presence of senior functionaries including Home Affairs Minister Benn, Chief of Staff Bess, Commissioner of Police Hoppie, Assistant Commissioner Hicken, Fire Chief Kalamadeen Edoo and retired Fire Chief Marlon Gentle.
While this publication was unable to spot Mr. Gentle last evening, many sources including firemen confirmed that he was on the ground and engaged in active fire fighting and directives to firefighters