Lumberyard owner loses over $60M in brush fire

Mark Mahase, the owner of ‘Top of the Line lumberyard’ also known as Rohan’s Lumberyard at Block 4 Enmore, East Coast Demerara, is grappling to deal with over $60 million in losses after a brush fire in the community rapidly spread on Monday and destroyed his business.

It took the Guyana Fire Service more than 24 hours to completely get the situation under control and from their investigations, the fire started after residents in the area lit heaps of garbage which was left unattended and spread to a nearby field.

On Tuesday, Mahase told the News Room that several calls were made to the Fire Service hours before the fire spread to the lumberyard.

“The night before, twice the fire service came and [put] out fire at the same place.

“[On Monday], the work men and I recognised that smoke was coming from the back of the lumberyard so I called the fire department and the person told me that the fire tender is engaged at Foulis and that when it’s finished, it will come. I called back about half after and [was] told the same thing again,” Mahase said.

The brush fire at the lumberyard (Photo: Guyana Fire Service)

Mohase said a fire tender arrived at about 13:00 hrs and went to the origin of the fire to extinguish it. When the firefighters finally decided to focus on the lumberyard, most of the wood was already on fire.

However, the fire service in a statement on Monday said four fire tenders from Melanie, Mahaica, Alberttown and Campellville responded to the fire at about 12:32 hrs. The Fire Service claimed that the fire spread rapidly due to heavy winds and the flammable materials surrounding it.

Mark Mahase, owner of the Top of the Line Lumberyard at Enmore, East Coast Demerara  (Photo: News Room/ October 31, 2023)

The brush fire reignited several times on Tuesday. Because of Guyana’s current severe hot weather, the Fire Service is urging citizens to desist from setting fires to grass and garbage during the dry season.

The situation is devastating for Mahase because he relocated the business from a different area in Enmore in January and he was pleased with the new location; he did not anticipate such tragedy.

According to Mahase, on Saturday, he received a delivery of a truckload of 8,500 logs and was scheduled to fill the orders of several contractors.

Richard Hardeen, owner of the property at Enmore, East Coast Demerara  (Photo: News Room/ October 31, 2023)

Meanwhile, Richard Hardeen, the owner of the field and compound where the lumberyard was, told the News Room that several complaints were made to the NDC about residents who set fire to garbage.

“Despite many efforts through the NDC (Neighbourhood Democratic Council) to solve this problem, we never solve it with the residents at the other side in Haslington. It’s a sore area that never been addressed and that created millions, maybe billions of losses,” Hardeen said.

The man had machinery housed at the lumberyard and all were destroyed.

Several workers who resided at the compound are now displaced. Collin Yhap said “Documents and everything that I had burn up. Entirely the lumberyard where we work, we lose a lot.”