Fire consumes Muneshwer's

By Ruel Johnson
WITH thick black smoke billowing more than 200 feet in the air, a devastating fire consumed Muneshwer's building on Water Street yesterday afternoon.

Winston Oudkerk photo shows Muneshwer’s building in flames. Inset: The elder Muneshwer (center) contemplating his next move as he and family members look at the raging inferno.

According to reports, the fire seemed to have started at approximately twenty minutes to five on the upper floor of the southern part of the building, just opposite to Fogarty's Department Store.

By the time the Guyana Chronicle arrived on the scene, the fire had already spread to most of the building. While firefighters bravely tried to quench the blaze - with many of the hoses springing multiple leaks - staff of Muneshwer's and some from Subway, which is housed in the building, were busy trying to salvage whatever valuables could be saved from what can only be described as an inferno.

Muneshwer’s Owner (Center) and family.

Boy on the right was a former student at the New Amsterdam Technical Institute (NATI)

Mr. R. K. Sharma, CEO of the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry, said that at around quarter to five in the afternoon, he was in his office when he saw flames coming from within the neighbouring Muneshwer's building.

He said that standard emergency measures were immediately put in place at the bank, starting with the evacuation of most of the staff; followed by the safeguarding of cash, client records, and the bank's core computer system. After that, members of staff armed themselves with fire extinguishers and placed themselves at strategic areas within the building to prevent the fire from spreading to the bank.

Muneshwer’s Employee

At the time this paper spoke with Mr. Sharma, he said that he felt some degree of comfort that the danger to his business had passed.

Meanwhile, enormous crowds had built up along the streets leading to the fire: police barriers had to be placed on Water Street in front of the National Bank of Industry and Commerce to the south; Western Union to the north; and at the junctions where it intersected with North Road and Robb Street.

President Bharrat Jagdeo, Opposition leader, Mr. Robert Corbin, and top Government and Opposition personnel went to the scene as quickly as they could. President Jagdeo and Mr. Corbin said separately that the fire was "a sad blow to the economy when the country can ill afford such a loss."

Similar sentiments were expressed by businessman Edward Boyer, a part-owner of the Royal Castle outlet which, along with Auto Supplies Company and Mohammed's Jewellery and Gift Enterprise, were destroyed by fire just over one month ago.

Doyen of the Muneshwer family, Armanath Muneshwer, seemed a hapless man as he watched his family's business literally go up in flames, last evening.

Asked for a comment, he could only muster a despondent, "I don't know where to start..."

Muneshwer's has been in existence since 1948. It moved to its present location on Water Street in 1991.


Saturday December 20, 2003