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Fire hits PoS drag mall

Four booths dam
Monday, June 4, 2018
Firemen at the scene of the fire at the Peoples Mall on Henry Street, Port-of-Spain, early yesterday morning.

The People’s Mall in Port-of-Spain has once again been hit by fire.

In the latest incident, firefighters responded to a blaze just before 1 am yesterday which destroyed thousands of dollars worth of clothing and merchandise.

A kitchen was also affected.

Mervyn Richards, a board member and shareholder at the mall, also referred as the Drag Mall, said four stores received the brunt of the damage.

He, however, ruled out the possibility that a dispute involving tenants may have led to a fire being maliciously started.

None of the other nearby businesses were affected and many of them were open for business yesterday.

“Everybody here has an understanding. With the two tenants who got the most damage, as far as I know, everything is well with them and with the rest of the people,” Richards said yesterday where he was on site surveying the damage done.

On plans to assist the affected tenants, he said the board will have to come together to discuss the matter before a decision is taken.

“We supposed to have a normal board member meeting this Thursday coming and of course the fire will be the top priority,” Richards said.

He said all the stores were closed when the fire took place, adding there were security officers posted by the location.

“This street is always busy so it’s hardly likely at that at that hour that if someone came to do sabotage, somebody would have seen,” Richards said.

“We have a guy a little higher up the street who was a member of the mall who sells cigarette. He is out quite late so he would see from the front and if they come from the back there is security at the mall and they would not be allowed to come on the inside.”

When contacted yesterday fire officers said the cause of the blaze was still unknown. They said they are expected to return to the scene today.

Video footage of the fire was posted and widely shared on Facebook yesterday.

This is the third fire at the mall within the last few years.

In 2015, a car battery exploded causing a million-dollar fire and destroying 140 booths. In 2017, a blaze destroyed stalls at the mall with losses estimated at $300,000.

After that fire, Richards said promises were made by the government to assist in the rebuilding process but to date, nothing has taken place.

“Our intention is to build over a mall for ourselves and we don’t want to lose ownership in the sense that if they help you they want to take control. We want a building that will uplift business in Port-of-Spain,” Richards said, noting they were speaking about the development of a proper mall structure.

He said this was expected to start within the next three to four years.

One tenant who did not want to be identified said he was grateful the entire mall was not reduced to ashes.

On how the fire may have started, he said, “It could have been electrical or any other thing. But the real issue is many people affected now and they need help.

“Thank God the fire didn’t affect me but it affects me as well because if the other people affected I cannot function.”

He praised the fire officers for what he said was a timely response.


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