MONEAGUE, St Ann — A fire at a building on the property of a Petcom service station in Moneague, St Ann yesterday has renewed calls from residents for a fire station in the community.
Two rooms on the upper floor of the building, which housed a recording studio and staff quarters, were completely destroyed by the fire which broke out in one of the rooms at about 11:30 am. A section of a tyre shop on the ground floor of the building was also razed.
Several pieces of equipment inside the recording studio, as well as furniture inside the staff quarters were reduced to ash.
Operator of the gas station, Hansley Berry, said the fire department responded quickly and he commended them for bringing the blaze under control before it spread to other areas of the facility.
"It (the fire) was actually on the opposite side of the storage tanks, so we are indeed grateful; it could have been worse," Berry said, noting that the destroyed equipment included computers and mixers.
"We saw smoke coming from a section of the upstairs building. We ran out with the extinguishers just to find out what was happening and to try to get rid of the smoke (but) the door was locked, so we didn't have any access," he explained.
Berry said while the fire department responded quickly and prevented what could have been a catastrophic situation, there was urgent need for a fire station to be built in the Moneague area.
"There are a lot of communities adjoining Moneague and it is very important, I think it is vitally important, that a station be placed in Moneague for situations like this because it could have been very devastating," Berry said.
"It could have locked down business coming towards the North Coast so I think it is well needed and the authorities should take a serious look at having a fire station in Moneague," he added.
Councillor for the Moneague division, Lloyd Garrick -- who visited the fire scene -- said he too was concerned about fires in the community and the distance fire units have to travel before getting to the area.
"In recent times we have been having a series of fires in the Moneague area and for years we have been calling for a fire station somewhere in the Golden Grove, Claremont or Moneague area," Garrick said.
"We really have to make an appeal now to Government to try and put something in place; we won't get a fire station tomorrow, but if we can get a stand-by situation where it can help in the case of a fire before the firefighters reach, it would help."
Recently, Garrick said fire completely destroyed two dwelling houses in the Moneague area.
Meanwhile, senior deputy superintendent and commanding officer for fire service in St Ann, Anthony Hinds, said an investigation would be carried out to ascertain what caused the fire.
"When the call came in that the Petcom gas station was on fire, based on our pre-determined response mechanism, we dispatched all three units in the parish... we also sought backup from St Catherine and they dispatched the Linstead fire truck," he explained.
However, he said when the first unit arrived, and after careful assessment, some of the units which were in transit were stopped while others at the scene and which were not needed were sent back to the respective fire stations.
The estimated damage could not be ascertained, however the building was insured.