Fire came to the heart of the capital this morning and ravaged four stores in clothing district Bolton Lane.
The shops suffered extensive damage with the entire stretch of Bolton Lane being cordoned off.
Five fire tenders and 14 firefighters led by Deputy Chief Fire Officer Henderson Patrick battled the blaze to bring it under control around 3:50 a.m.
Barbados TODAY found stunned owners on the scene staring at the hollowed out buildings that were they livelihoods in the traditional street of tailors and clothiers for well over a century
The owner of Fergie’s, Kevin Ferguson, estimated he had lost thousands of dollars in stock, though insured.
“Tens of thousands . . . and then all the money you are not going to earn when you are looking for someplace to set up and regroup yourself. So it has to be in the thousands of tens of thousands,” Ferguson declared.
But the family-run firm should be able to reopen in a month if all goes well upon his inspection of the property, he said.
“I don’t think I want to rush into anything but I am going to go and see what is the loss over the next couple of days, [so] in another month or so,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“My stuff was insured against perils from a fire. I did not insure the building because I do not own the building but the landlord said it was insured,” he said, adding that the ordeal was traumatic for his mother who started the business.
“I am still trying to deal with what happened from this morning. I got to check on my mom too as she is not taking it very easy as she started the business [and] she would have put a lot of energy into it. To [have it] damaged was not easy for her,” Ferguson said.
But the store owner was keen to start rebuilding the ladies clothing shop “as soon as we get the green light.
“We are going to rebuild better,” he said, adding that in the next six months the store should be back to a state of normalcy.
Fergie’s was spared from losing its Christmas stock in the fire as they were in the midst of preparing for the shopping season. Across the road at Jayson’s, which was spared from the flames, owner Chandru Thani said that it would be a hard loss for the business owners with the current state of the economy.
“It is hard because you know the economy the way it is and we facing something like this at the end of the day it is God’s will. But I feel truly for them I hope they get up and do something again,” he said, adding that all of the merchandisers in Bolton Lane were a family.
“All the people were on the same street and it was like a neighborhood and if somebody was your neighbor you feel for them and wish that they get back up and do something again,” Thani said, adding that he was willing to assist the four stores in getting back on their feet.
“Why not? Because if you are my neighbour that is the time we should be helping each other,” he said.
He suggested shopkeepers in Bridgetown need to be careful and have the required fire equipment at the ready.
“These unfortunate things happen [from] time to time and you just have to be careful and have your fire alarm. We have a fire alarm, we have all the precautions and everyone should do the same thing,” Thani said.
Another Bolton Lane business owner, who did not want to be identified, has called for a renewal of the area buildings and for demolition in the historic capital.
“These buildings are not safe to open business; once they pass 100 years they should be demolished from the roof and start off fresh . . . . Anything shaking this and that it will collapse, that is what my point of view is. Any building over 100 years need to move because it is a hazard,” he said.