St George’s High School fire was electrical in nature

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A massive blaze destroyed the public school on July 20 (Don Singh photo)

The Guyana Fire Service (GFS) has completed its investigation into the fire which destroyed the St. George’s High School on July 20, and has ruled that the blaze was electrical in nature. 

“Based on our findings the fire was electrical in nature and stemmed from an inoperable duplex receptacle located in the Social Studies Department on the North Eastern wall of the building.” 

Though inoperable, the GFS noted that electricity was going to the duplex receptacle and the subsequent overheating of the insulation caused the plastic coating on the wire to melt, resulting in arcing and sparking which ignited nearby combustibles and spread to the entire building.  

The GFS is urging citizens to ensure electrical appliances, outlets and wiring are of the correct standard as advised by the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS). These items should be examined on a regular basis to ensure they are in proper working order, it added. 

Furthermore, the Fire Service is advising citizens to equip their homes and businesses with fire extinguishers and smoke detectors for the early detection and extinction of fires. 

A total of 421 students and 25 teachers were displaced after the fire destroyed the school located at 7 Company Path between North Road and Church Streets, Georgetown. 

A fire report was made to the Police at 13:15hrs on the day in question, and the scene was visited at around 13:20hrs by the Commander Regional Division 4 ‘A’ Assistant Commissioner Khali Pareshram and a party of Police ranks. 

Also present at the fire scene were the Minister of Home Affairs. Robeson Benn, Minister of Education Priya Manickchand and other officials.  

Enquiries disclosed that the St. George’s High School building was a two-storey wooden and concrete structure measuring approximately 60 feet in width by 120 feet in length. 

Sixty-one-year-old Juliet Mattis, a retired teacher on contract with the said school, said that she reported for duty at around 10:00 hrs.  

While in the process of teaching reading lessons to six students in the lower flat of the building, she was alerted by a 33-year-old janitorial staff that the building was on fire. 

Mattis immediately instructed the students to evacuate the building along with the cleaner and a 21-year-old teacher. 

The Fire Service was summoned, and Fire Chief Gregory Wickham and other ranks arrived with five water tenders and immediately went into action.   

The entire upper flat and the interior of the lower flat of the school were destroyed.  

Meanwhile, the Education Ministry has already put systems in place to accommodate the displaced students and teachers at other schools across the country.

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