Fire destroys 3 small businesses in Tunapuna
Saturday, September 15 2012
A single mother of three children aged four, five and six, was just one of the persons to be affected by the fire that destroyed the building opposite the Tunapuna Market, off the Eastern Main Road, on Thursday night.
Melissa Maharaj owned Michelle’s Fashions, Michelle’s Variety Store, and a small restaurant in the building. She estimated her losses between $400,000 to $600,000. She had no insurance.
Maharaj told Newsday she had renovated her food business about a month ago, and bought goods for the store in Curaçao just two weeks before. Now it is all destroyed. “I lost everything. This is everything I have,” said Maharaj as she pointed at the burnt-out building. “We didn’t get to save anything because by the time I got here the place was full of smoke. There wasn’t enough water on the trucks to handle the fire. They took awhile to open the doors, and the blaze just kept getting worse, and worse.”
Maharaj said she was at the wake of murdered Tunapuna businessman, Ragoonath Sooknanan, at about 8.15 pm when she heard about the fire, and rushed to her stores. She stood in shock and watched the fire consume the businesses she had worked for 12 yerars to build. She said the owner of the building had previously informed the tenants that the building was too old tobe insured, but they did not mind because they were “making an honest dollar.”
She said business had been very slow recently, therefore she wanted to concentrate on Christmas sales. With that in mind, she made the recent trip to Curaçao and intended to visit Panama soon. Now however, she is unsure of her next step. Still, she thanked her family and eight workers for their support throughout the ordeal.
“I don’t know what will happen now. I don’t know how to pick up the pieces. I don’t have anything that I can fall back on,” she said, her voice shaking, and with tears in her eyes. “I would appreciate any kind of assistance I can get.”
Despite her despair, Maharaj said God would not give her more than she could handle, so she would try to be positive, and hope for the best. “I don’t know how to move forward and pick up the pieces, but I am determined to make it somehow,” she declared.
When Newsday arrived at the scene at about 12 pm, fire officers were still dousing small flames inside the gutted building, and an investigative team was viewing the rubble.