Wednesday, 14 January 2009 11:40 AM

Popular Shop Down in Flames

Yesterday, three businesses housed at the Eastern Motors building went down in flames at the Ranadi Highway in Honiara.

The popular shop, Barak, owned by a Malaitan family was one of the businesses burnt to the ground.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, however, according to witnesses; the fire may have been caused by an electrical fault.

Shopkeepers of the nearby shops told Solomon Times that the blaze started right after "a spark of light" came from the ceiling of the building.

According to a witness, the blaze began spreading fast as the cargoes of the Barak shop caught fire, on which time "people began running out of the shop screaming fire!" a shopkeeper told Solomon Times.

Another witness, Solomon Dyer, said that shopkeepers panicked and ran out of the shop, leaving everything behind.

"The fire would not have burnt the whole building if workers had kept their calm and threw water at the flames that started small," Mr. Dyer said.

The fire that also burnt a nearby bottle shop and the 3 Shan Shop attracted a huge crowd that police had to control people to clear the scene as they did their job.

Many onlookers criticized the "long delay" of firefighters to the scene.

A young woman from the crowd told Solomon Times that before police reached the scene, "young boys were looting goods from the shops, especially the Barak Shop."

She said the blaze started around 3pm and while police made it earlier, "firefighters were at the scene much later and by then, it was too late to save the building, let alone all three businesses down in ashes."

Despite the lateness, firefighters worked tirelessly to save the remaining shops nearby and stop the fire from spreading.

The police had to divert traffic to clear the road for firefighters to do their job while officers worked on easing the crowd and questioning witnesses around the scene.