By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Ministry of Education’s warehouse unit on University Drive was completely destroyed in a blaze late Tuesday night.
This inferno was the second major fire in the nation’s capital in a 12-hour period.
Education Minister Jeff Lloyd told Parliament that despite the presence of multiple fire units and the assistance of himself and other senior personnel in the Ministries of Education and Youth, Sports, and Culture, officers confirmed yesterday morning the building could not be saved.
Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, Fire Services director, Chief Superintendent Walter Evans reported to the media that a fire had broken out at the warehouse.
During his address, Mr Lloyd said the fire department received a call about the blaze at 11.25pm on Tuesday.
“Initially three fire units were dispatched,” Mr Lloyd continued. “Upon their arrival, heavy smoke and flames emanated from the building. Director Walter Evans of the Fire Department contacted the airport fire crew, dispatching an additional truck to render assistance.
“Upon their arrival, visibility in the building proved difficult, as well as difficulty engaging access to all areas of that building.”
Mr Lloyd added equipment such as the jaws of life had to be used to gain entry to the building. A “large number” of paper material, including files and office supplies, were already “engulfed in flames,” the education minster reported.
“Because of the set-up of the warehouse and the chain link fencing of the interior, it proved difficult to extinguish the multiple seats of fire.
“Shortly before 5am this morning (Wednesday), myself and many other senior personnel in the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Culture came to assist in the extinguishing of that fire,” Mr Lloyd continued.
“This morning, at 9.30 the fire continued to burn, however, it was determined by Senior Officer Knowles on the scene the that the building and its contents were completely destroyed.”
Roughly 12 hours prior, a massive fire broke out at John Chea #8 on Carmichael Road. CSP Evans said police were informed shortly before 11am on Tuesday and responding officers met a massive blaze emanating from the rear of the food store.
Two women were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. CSP Evans could not confirm whether they were store employees but noted they were conscious when transported to the hospital.
He added all available units in New Providence were called to that scene, as well as a truck from the airport Crash and Rescue Department. A portion of Carmichael Road from Gladstone Road to Golden Isles Road had to be closed as officers fought the blaze.
In addition to windy conditions aiding the spread of the fire, fire-trucks had to go to nearby fire hydrants to replenish their water supply, CSP Evans said.
He also told reporters that it was too early to tell what caused the fire.
On Saturday, a transformer at the Sea Grape Shopping Centre exploded and resulted in a minor fire. Operations at several stores in the plaza were temporarily halted late Saturday night. There were no injuries.
The previous Saturday, October 7, four government vehicles parked at a Department of Labour building on Carmichael Road caught fire. Police said arson is suspected in the case. There were no reported injuries.