An unoccupied, one-story commercial building in Port-of-Spain was partially destroyed by fire last night. However, quick work by the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service helped contain blaze from spreading to nearby properties.
Eyewitness Nikeisha Joseph told Guardian Media that shortly after 6 pm, she, along with friends Darlene Lewis and Jade Mascall were outside the building on Upper Abercromby Street, which is opposite Bishop Anstey High School, taking photos when they noticed black smoke coming from the building.
“We didn't know what to do, then my friend said let's call the fire station. We did and some other guys on the street were saying that they were trying to call the fire station but didn't get through. We make a couple blocks to see if we could have gone on the other side to see what was going on," Joseph said.
"The fire station called us back, we gave them the directions again and then they came and it was just fire truck after fire truck trying different things.”
Civil lawyer Fareed Scoon, whose practice is behind the building which caught fire, said when the fire broke out they tried calling the fire service but they had to wait several minutes on hold to speak with someone.
Despite this, the tenders arrived on the scene in good time and immediately began to battle the blaze. One of the first on the scene was Fire Sub-Officer and president of the Fire Officer's Association Leo Ramkissoon, who commended the efforts of his fellow officers, especially since there was a high probability for the blaze to escalate out of hand.
“They did a wonderful job in firstly isolating the fire and keeping it away from the very closely - under five feet distance from the nearest residence. They were able to save every part of the next residence and were able to confine the fire to that building,” he said.
Ramkissoon said the first strike unit which responded was actually on another call - a bushfire in the St Ann's area. The officers had to pack up from that fight and head over to the second fire.
A resident of the neighbouring home told Guardian Media he was grateful that the fire was brought under control.