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Trincity fire could affect supermarket food supply

Published: 
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Fire officers examine a wall at the JMH warehouse at the Trincity Industrial Estate yesterday. The compound was gutted by a fire on Sunday night. BELOW: Passers-by look on as fire engulfs the JMH warehouse on Sunday night. PICTURES ABRAHAM DIAZ & AYANNA KINSALE

Four businesses under one company—JMH Enterprise Limited—at the Trincity Industrial Estate went up in flames on Sunday night.

Owner Christopher James said yesterday his losses are estimated to run “well into the hundreds of millions of dollars.” He said eight trucks, three vans, four cars and equipment were all destroyed in the blaze, while 45 employees were affected.

However, James complained that were there not severe water woes the fire-fighters who responded could have saved at least three of his businesses. A fire hydrant just outside his compound had no water supply when the fire appliances responded to the fire, he said.

Speaking to the T&T Guardian as he kept a close eye on fire officers still trying to extinguish parts of the warehouses where small fires reignited yesterday, James said it is believed the fire started in the garage of the rice warehouse.

“I have not been able to get any reports yet because they are still trying to out the fire, but I know that yesterday (Sunday) had very strong winds so I don’t know if that may have been the cause,” James said.

He assured that the compound, which stores sugar, oil, rice and appliances, was properly secured at about 6 pm on Friday.

“We left everything like normal. Nothing had changed, no procedure had changed and it’s almost 40 years we have been doing business from right there,” James said.

He said he got a phone call about the fire around 8.30 pm and by the time he got there half hour later, the fire-fighters on two tenders which responded had difficulty gaining access because of the design of the main gate and also had no access to water from the hydrant.

“When I arrived only one building was on fire and because the fire officers could not get water from the fire hydrant they had to go for water. They spent about 15 minutes before they came back with water and that trend continued throughout the night,” James said.

“I was told by a fire officer that if they had 20 minutes of water supply constantly they would have been able to contain the fire to just the one building, but because of the lack of water the fire quickly spread.”

James said supermarkets from across the country would be now be directly affected as he supplied 50 per cent of the local market’s rice, oil and sugar. He expects that as a domino effect prices may increase on those items.

However, he assured that he would try his best to rebuild as fast as he can and in the interim plans to rent a warehouse and needed equipment, as he is expected to clear a shipment of rice from the port next week.

Investigations are continuing.